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Challenges and Successes of Volunteer Monitoring: Zeloski Wetland Restoration, L ake Mills, WI Bryan Huberty, Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator, Rock River.

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Presentation on theme: "Challenges and Successes of Volunteer Monitoring: Zeloski Wetland Restoration, L ake Mills, WI Bryan Huberty, Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator, Rock River."— Presentation transcript:

1 Challenges and Successes of Volunteer Monitoring: Zeloski Wetland Restoration, L ake Mills, WI Bryan Huberty, Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator, Rock River Coalition 2005 Citizen-Based Monitoring Conference

2 The Rock River Coalition: Our Mission The Rock River Coalition (RRC) is a local, non-profit organization with a mission to educate and provide opportunities for people of diverse interests to work together to improve the environmental, recreational, cultural and economic resources of the Rock River Basin.

3 RRC’s Wetland/Shoreline Protection Issue Team Priorities: Native shoreline restoration Wetland prioritization for restoration Establishing new wetland restoration volunteer monitoring

4 History of a Conservation Partnership Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Madison Audubon Society (MAS), WIDNR, Pheasants Forever and other local groups aim to restore large wetlands in south-central WI through government-citizen partnerships on a “basin” level. RRC approaches NRCS to form partnership for monitoring wetland restorations in the Rock River Basin. MAS acquires a 1,496 acre muck farm in Lake Mills and Pheasants Forever acquires a 2,736 acre tamarack swamp in Jefferson from local farmer, Dennis Zeloski, in 2003.

5 Background: Zeloski Wetland Monitoring Program Partnership determines not enough information is available on citizen monitoring programs for large restorations. Hiring a professional monitoring team not financially feasible. Bryan Huberty is hired in 2004 to develop a monitoring program and coordinate citizen volunteer activities in 2005.

6 London Marsh: early history 1836: Land surveyed as “all wet marsh. Set quarter post in marsh too wet for mound.” 1850’s: The Fighting Finches, a local outlaw gang that robbed stagecoaches, used marsh. Late 1800’s: A railroad was built through the wetland. One train car lost in sinkhole. 1936: Nature club from Madison camped at Hope Lake Bog. 1962: Hugh Iltis, Helmut Meuller and Jim Zimmerman survey Hope Lake Bog’s plant species.

7 London Marsh and Hope Lake Bog: Aerial Photos (1937) London MarshHope Lake Bog

8 Marsh drained for Muck Farms 1946: Technology became available to drain wetlands and Felix Zeloski began to acquire, drain and farm wetlands. 1950’s to 1999: 3-5 feet of soil lost due to oxidation of peat and water/wind erosion. Land development booms in Sun Prairie, 16 miles to the northwest at the headwaters of the Koshkonong Creek. 1986: DNR acquires abandoned railroad and creates the Glacial Drumlin Trail.

9 Muck Farms: 1940 to 1950 1940: Marsh partially drained – some native vegetation remains 1950: Transition to ag complete

10 What was lost? Native plant communities: tamarack swamp, wetland, sedge meadow, wet and mesic prairie Grassland and marsh bird populations Several feet of topsoil Rare and restricted invertebrates, anurans, mammals and other wildlife Groundwater filtration

11 Return of the Wetland 2000: A heavy summer rain sends floodwaters from Koshkonong Creek into Zeloski’s farm fields, creating lakes. 2002: Dennis Zeloski applies for 30-year WRP easement for Muck Farms and sells 2,736 acres in Jefferson to Pheasants Forever. 2003: Zeloski sells Muck Farms to MAS. 2005: Cropland farmed while NRCS develops restoration plan. Citizens monitoring begins. 2006-07: Wetlands will be restored and opened to public. Long-term monitoring begins.

12 Muck Farms: Today Site Map External drainage ditch

13 2005 Citizen Monitoring Anurans (Frogs & Toads) Birds Lepidoptera (Butterflies) Small Mammals Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies) Plants Water Quality Misc.

14 Anuran (Frog & Toad) Monitoring WI Anuran Survey protocol 3 visits/yr (early spring, late spring and mid- summer) 8 species out of 12 total in state recorded Nearby sites surveyed due to lack of water 10 volunteers contributed to 4 outings in May, June and July.

15 Bird Monitoring Annual Crane and Pheasant Count (April 16) Spring Migration Survey (late March-May) Breeding Bird Survey (June) Pheasant and Duck Brood Survey (August) Fall Waterfowl Migration (October) 9 volunteers contributed to 2 surveys in April and June.

16 Odonata Monitoring Goal: Six site visits from late May to late Sept Walk a specific route: ½ to 2 hours Specimens collected for WDNR records Site too degraded; 3 nearby natural areas surveyed- Hope Lake Bog, Bean Lake Bog and Red Cedar Lake 16 volunteers contributed to 4 surveys in July, Aug. and Sept. 12 species recorded including 7 new records for Jefferson Co.

17 Lepidoptera (Butterflies) Protocol similar to Odonata June 1 to Aug 7 is peak survey period July 4 is national butterfly survey date Site too degraded; nearby Audubon sanctuary prairie used for training 5 volunteers contributed to 1 survey in August

18 Floristic Monitoring Floristic Quality Analysis (FQA) conducted on 2 acre oak island and Hope Lake Bog. Invasive species mapped to help engineers during restoration Degraded tamarack swamp too overgrown to survey now, but will be catalogued early next spring. 15-20 volunteers contributed to 4 surveys in Oct (’04), June & Sept (’05).

19 Water Quality 1x/month Storm events (over 1” rain) Independent citizen team collects data with RRC’s basic water quality kit USDA wetland biologist, Greg Kidd, collects data with the Hydrolab Data are compared to determine accuracy of home kits Conclusion: water is very polluted now, biomass is very high and nutrient levels are influenced by large cattle farm directly north and illegal dumping in past. 6 volunteers contributed to 3 events in May, June and July.

20 Miscellaneous Monitoring Soils and residual seed bank survey Prairie and wetland seed collection Photopoints and historical photodocumentation of auction, seeding and restoration activities Cultural/Historical survey

21 General Monitoring Challenges Unpredictable site and weather conditions Significant drought Mobilizing a large volunteer list Maintaining an accurate database Training volunteers at highly degraded site Timing surveys to capture peak activity Choosing or designing best protocol for each team Maintaining a consistent monitoring effort Record keeping and maintenance Onsite storage for equipment and materials

22 2005 Monitoring Successes Over 30 volunteers out of 51 potential ones participated in monitoring Independent monitoring by citizen-led teams Baseline data collected for all planned monitoring Bonus data collected Student volunteers’ research projects 7 new county records for odonates Participation in NRCS Earth Team Program No accidents or injuries Rock River Coalition named “Top Citizen Monitoring Program in WI for 2005” by WDNR.

23 NRCS Site and Seeding Maps 648 acres seeding Nov. 2005

24 Acknowledgements Photo Credits: Bryan Huberty, Sue Probst (Wood Duck) NRCS, RRC, MAS, WIDNR, UW Extension, Pheasants Forever

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