2008-09 Partnership Program Projects

$100,000 was made available to help support citizen-based monitoring initiatives in 2008. Successful proposals for the 2008-09 Partnership Program are listed below.
Friends of Allen Creek Watershed
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The Friends of Allen Creek Watershed (FACW) has been collecting monthly water quality data since 2005. Currently, FACW collects data using the DNR Tier II monitoring protocols and has been using the UW-Stevens Point WEAL lab for water chemistry analysis. This group plans to collect supplementary data by purchasing and installing three HOBO Water Level Loggers and purchasing an additional twelve months of river package water chemistry analysis at UW-Stevens Point. The additional data will help the group to understand seasonal to annual hydrologic function and how that relates to changes in water chemistry at different locations in the creek.

The monitoring team collects water samples at three sites throughout the year to acquire a comprehensive, continuous data set. A finer resolution of discharge data, provided by the continuous loggers, will provide a better understanding of the hydrologic function and water chemistry in the creek and associated wetlands. This information is paramount to a thorough understanding of the function of the creek and will directly improve decision-making, policy advocacy, restoration planning and monitoring of Allen Creek and the Allen Creek watershed.
Thomas Mowbray
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Cyanobacteria or Blue green algae are ubiquitous in nature and during summer months can become the dominant algae in freshwater lakes. Several genera of Cyanobacteria produce toxins that can cause allergic reactions and in some cases even death to animals. Although toxin-containing genera have been reported in Upper Lake St. Croix, no study has ever been done on the lake to follow their population changes through the season or to determine the relationship between cell density and toxicity of the lake water. This start-up project will monitor population changes in the toxin-containing Cyanobacteria visually by microscope through the 2008 season and at peak densities analyze the water for toxins by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Samples will be collected on the lake a minimum of eight times during the season and analysis of the samples made under laboratory conditions on the campus of the University of Minnesota - Duluth. Results will be made available to the community within a day of analysis and if necessary warnings posted for recreational use of the lake. This project will involve volunteers from the local lake association and local community volunteers.
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
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This project will contribute significantly to long-term monitoring of bat populations in southwest Wisconsin by contributing to a reference library of bat echolocation calls and running survey routes during the six month monitoring period. High schools, nature centers, and citizens will have the potential to contribute to bat monitoring efforts during this project. Also contributing to the long-term success of monitoring bat populations in southwest Wisconsin and beyond will be the direct involvement of university students.
Beaver Creek Reserve Citizen Science Center
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The Citizen Science Center currently trains volunteers from several counties including Clark, Chippewa, and Eau Claire Counties in WAV protocol and plans to expand training workshops to include Dunn, Rusk and Barron Counties. The Citizen Science Center plans to conduct seven stream monitoring workshops in six counties and will create 18 stream monitoring kits (3 per county), which can be shared amongst volunteers in each county. The increase in monitoring kits will make it easier for volunteers to get out in the field and monitor. A previous hurdle was the lack of equipment for loan, causing volunteers to drive over an hour just to get supplies for monitoring. This project is a great example of utilizing volunteers over a large area to accomplish a common goal.
Northland College’s Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute LoonWatch in partnership with the WI Department of Natural Resources
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Northland College’s Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute LoonWatch program in conjunction with WDNR’s Northwoods Loon Protection Program is planning to further integrate loon monitoring efforts with Wisconsin Citizen Lake Monitoring Network projects. The LoonWatch citizen-based Annual Lakes Monitoring Program trains volunteers, known as Loon Rangers, to collect data on common loons as an indicator of long term lake ecosystem health.

In 2008-2009, LoonWatch will coordinate five initiatives which will allow further integration for lake managers and inspiration for citizen conservation: load historical loon data such as nest and nursery sites onto the Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS), determine the best value for integrated data monitoring, educate current Loon Rangers about other monitoring projects, hold concurrent training sessions with other monitoring projects, and work with the network to recruit for the 2010 five-year Wisconsin Loon Census.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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This project proposes to use samples obtained from trappers and nuisance wildlife personnel to evaluate disease prevalence in free-ranging carnivores. The project will compare exposure of canine distemper and parvovirus in raccoons and coyotes on an urban to rural gradient. Certain carnivores, such as raccoons, typically occur at higher densities in urban areas and the project aims to investigate how this phenomenon influences disease exposure.
WI Department of Natural Resources in partnership with the Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society and the UW-Madison Department of Wildlife Ecology
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This project will improve survey efforts to document the current distribution of sharp-tailed grouse, currently a species of greatest conservation need. Although several key DNR and partner properties are surveyed annually, a standardized range-wide procedure is not in place for surveying private lands and other non-DNR properties. This project addresses current survey deficiencies and identifies the protocols needed to complete the survey using a network of volunteers recruited with the assistance of the Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society. The objective of this survey is to use a network of citizen scientists recruited through the Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society to document the distribution of dancing grounds primarily on private lands within parts of central and Northern Wisconsin. A secondary objective is to count the number of dancing males on each identified dancing ground. This survey information is a critical component of the sharp-tailed grouse management planning effort and will provide key data on the distribution of sharp-tailed grouse in Wisconsin. Survey data will also aid in identifying critical conservation areas for future sharp-tailed grouse management efforts.

Survey effort will be focused within 4 key ecological landscapes, Northwest Sands, North Central Forest, Superior Coastal Plains and Central Sand Plains. Specifically, sites with recent sharp-tailed grouse activity (but not surveyed regularly or surveyed formally) and newly created sharp-tailed grouse habitats (e.g. recent clearcuts) will be selected for surveying efforts.
The Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin in partnership with the WI Department of Natural Resources
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The Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin (IPAW) is planning to create citizen-based monitoring equipment libraries in each of the five regions in the state. This project will allow citizens interested in monitoring to get involved without having to purchase equipment. These libraries will house global positioning system (GPS) receivers and personal digital assistants (PDAs) that can be checked out by citizen-based monitoring groups in need of this technology. The PDAs will be prepared for use with the National Institute of Invasive Species Science (NIISS; www.NIISS.org) citizen science program website (www.citsci.org). Although this infrastructure is targeted towards invasive species monitoring, these PDAs and GPS receivers will be available for any citizen-based monitoring effort.

The NIISS citizen science website allows citizen science organizations to create customized online data entry forms for terrestrial and aquatic invasive species. With an online customized form system, any citizen scientist with an internet connection will be able to enter their own data and view that data using the NIISS mapping application.
River Alliance of Wisconsin
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The River Alliance of Wisconsin is partnering with the Wisconsin DNR's Wisconsin Weed Watchers, Wisconsin DNR's Purple loosestrife Program, Wisconsin University Extension and local watershed organizations to survey for invasive species threatening the integrity of our riparian ecosystems. This project plans to organize two paddling events training citizen monitors to survey from watercraft for Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), common reed grass (Phragmites australis), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), and/or Japanese hops (Humulus japonicus). These species all have the potential to cause serious damage to shorelines and to spread rapidly downstream once established. All are relatively uncommon along most river corridors in Wisconsin at this time and early detection is critical for prevention and control.
WI Department of Natural Resources in partnership with Northland College’s Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute LoonWatch
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Since the WDNR and LoonWatch are both coordinating loon monitoring programs, a partnership between these two entities is essential for interpreting the projected outcomes of the monitoring programs to other partners and citizens. In addition, linking datasets together will allow future refinement of monitoring techniques that otherwise wouldn't be feasible. This project plans to expand their citizen monitoring base through additional trainings, enter historic (1991 - 2007) loon productivity and mercury exposure data to the SWIMS database (432 lakes in Vilas, Oneida, Iron, Forest, Lincoln and Langlande Counties) and provide materials and supplies for 3-5 additional joint Wisconsin Loon Citizen Scientist Network/Loonwatch workshops in 2009. The overall outcome of this project will allow DNR policy makers to predict the population level benefits of reducing or controlling the impact of various stressors on the Wisconsin loon population, such as mercury emission reductions and improved lake habitat and shoreland protection rules.
Calumet County Planning Department
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This project will create a new monitoring effort, train new citizen monitors, and expand the focus of existing citizen monitors. The mission of the project is to locate and map invasive plants throughout Calumet County. A complete picture of the invasive aquatic and terrestrial weed problem in Calumet County is necessary for the development of a sound and useful management and control plan. New Citizen-based monitoring surveys will occur along all 901 miles of roads in Calumet County. This project will use existing citizen based monitors in Calumet County to survey invasives along their regular routes during surveys in 2008-2009. These existing projects include: The new and existing citizen-based survey results will be combined with:
WI Dept of Natural Resources and Fox Valley Technical College
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In order to control, prevent and monitor the encroachment of invasive plant species into the Glacial Habitat Restoration Area (GHRA) this project plans to develop a volunteer invasive species monitoring program. The study site will be on the properties managed under the GHRA in Winnebago, Fond du Lac, and Dodge Counties. The goal of the GHRA is to manage for nesting habitat of non-game song birds, pheasants, and waterfowl - so areas targeted for monitoring will be grasslands, savannas, and fence lines. This project will be a year round monitoring program which will provide the GHRA with valuable information on invasive species locations and densities.
Iron County Land and Water Conservation Department
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The purpose of this project is to develop a county-wide education and monitoring program through local partnerships to prevent further spread of aquatic invasive species throughout Iron County lakes, streams and to/from the adjacent counties of Oneida, Price, Vilas, Ashland and Gogebic County in Michigan. Currently, only 3% of Iron Counties 494 lakes are known to have one or more aquatic invasive species. Keeping them out will help maintain the tourism-based economy which Iron County greatly depends on. This project will work with the County-wide Lakes Alliance, local schools, individual lake associations, county and town officials, and the general public.
North Lakeland Discovery Center
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This project plans to create a standard protocol that citizen-based monitors can easily follow to monitor lake levels. Water levels in many Wisconsin lakes have changed substantially over the past decade, perhaps in response to changing climatic conditions or land use. Automated and manual methods for monitoring lake levels need to be evaluated and tested for reliability, ease of use and cost before a standard protocol is adopted for general use. Throughout the project consultation will be provided by Dr. Carl Watras, DNR research scientist at the Trout Lake UW Limnology Station. This project will partner with various local schools and lake associations.
Mosquito Hill Nature Center in partnership with Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation and the WI Department of Natural Resources
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Mosquito Hill Nature Center is a 430 acre property located along the Wolf River in Outagamie County, 45 minutes from Green Bay and 25 minutes from the Fox Cities. This project is launching a comprehensive biological inventory of their property with the help of students and on staff naturalists. This is their first step in developing a parcel monitoring program and the starting point is somewhat unconventional - mosquitoes! Wisconsin has over 50 species of mosquitoes. They vary significantly in their habitat preferences, timing of their breeding cycle, and host preferences. Species composition and abundance can vary significantly from year to year as weather patterns and climate changes.

Adult, larval and pupal mosquitoes will be collected during standard classroom field trips and by staff naturalists and volunteers from a variety of habitats on MHNC during the summer and fall of 2008. Volunteers will use light traps, gravid traps, aspirators, resting pots, larval dippers and oviposition cups. Adult mosquitoes will be sorted to genus or species as feasible for students and then forwarded to Marshfield Clinic or other cooperators to complete the identification and documentation process. Adult mosquitoes which contain a blood meal will be tested to identify the source species of the blood. Larva will be identified to species and eggs will be reared to the larval stage and then identified. At each step the results (primarily species detected) will be organized by habitat, location on the property, collection method, and date and then displayed for all students and participants to see the progress.
North Lakeland Discovery Center
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North Lakeland Discovery Center is a 501C-3 not-for-profit organization, located in Vilas County in Northwest Wisconsin. The project plans to expand their monitoring efforts of the Marten in Iron County. Utilizing a variety of techniques including the use of hair snares, Tomahawk live traps, regular communication with local trappers, and multiple tracking surveys (including winter tracking) the project successfully trapped and radio- collared three Marten last year. Detailed monitoring via use of radio-telemetry equipment occurred throughout the past year and will continue during this project. This project is working in close relation with Bruce Bacon, DNR wildlife biologist in Mercer, WI. Other partners of the project include Iron County Forestry Committee, Iron County Land Conservation Department, School Districts of Hurley and Mercer, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) , Northwoods Wildlife & Wetlands Club, North Lakeland Discovery Center volunteers.
Blue Mounds Area Project
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This project seeks to develop and pilot a landowner monitoring strategy that can be used to track the status of listed species and their habitats in the oak savanna region in Southwestern Wisconsin. This will allow landowners to track the progress of their management efforts and provide the project and the WDNR with more accurate information on the current status of listed species habitats. Once perfected the next step is to incorporate this protocol into all Blue Mounds Area Project first time site assessments and offer it to all members as a core element of its outreach activities. Oak Savanna is recognized as one of the most threatened landscapes in WI. The Blue Mounds Area Project, a community-based conservation organization has habitat and listed species information for approximately 12,000 acres dating back to 1995 from conducting somewhat informal but professionally directed on-site surveys. This project will take data collection one step further by incorporating a landowners.
Monona Grove Alternative School in partnership with Friends of Troy Gardens
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Contact II

Friends of Troy Gardens (FTG) and the Monona Grove Alternative School (MGAS) will form a new partnership in order to monitor and control the invasive grass, Phalaris arundinacea, or reed canary grass (RCG) in the 4-acre restored tallgrass prairie at Troy Gardens. Troy Gardens is located on the North side of Madison in Dane County. Students will work together to develop a monitoring plan, set up test plots, and monitor those plots. The project will apply different treatments to the plots, including close mowing, removing seed heads, digging grass out, covering grass with black plastic, covering grass with cardboard and wood chips, torching, and planting competing species. Data will be collected, compiled and analyzed, and students will work together to develop a final report and management plan. WDNR staff will direct the project in the methods and oversee the project planning stages.
Friends Group for the Southern Unit - Kettle Moraine State Forest in partnership with the WI Dept. of Natural Resources
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The Kettle Moraine Natural History Association, the official Friends Group for the Southern Unit - Kettle Moraine State Forest, has been granted the responsibility to monitor a nearly 3,500-acre parcel of land now known as the Scuppernong River Habitat Area. This group plans to recruit and train volunteers to inventory plant life, small mammals, especially Franklin Ground squirrels, and bird life in this large area. The purpose of this extensive inventory is to gain insight into the effectiveness of restoration methods and the ecological diversity resulting from such restoration.
Jill Roberts
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This project will have a mobile bat monitoring unit housed at a field station in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. This unit will be used to monitor bat populations throughout the state forest and in surrounding areas including local streams and lakes. Data collected during this project will help answer the call for increased inventory and monitoring efforts to address information deficits on all bats of Wisconsin. This project will work in conjunction with Dave Redell, DNR Bat Ecologist, to fulfill the data needs of the Wisconsin Bat Conservation & Management Plan.
Wisconsin Bird Conservation Intiative in partnership with the WI Dept. of Natural Resources
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WBCI is working with the WDNR to create a web portal for bird surveys in Wisconsin. This web portal would deliver route maps, protocols, data sheets and would allow for better recruitment and coordination of volunteers. Volunteers would be able to better understand the survey opportunities in their local area and the monitoring coordinator would be able to use this tool to more efficiently recruit and deliver information to the volunteers. This web portal would be linked to the main WBCI Research and Monitoring website as well as related projects including individual survey web pages and the related training from the Great Lakes Birder Certification Program.
WI Dept. of Natural Resources in partnership with the Wisconsin Wildlife Rehabilitator's Association
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This project will assist in the development of a comprehensive wildlife rehabilitation annual report database that will facilitate the analysis of data pertaining to Wisconsin’s wildlife populations. Based on the educational needs revealed through analysis of the annual report data, materials will be produced and training opportunities facilitated to expand upon the knowledge base of the rehabilitation community and thereby improve the husbandry of wildlife in rehabilitation.

Wildlife rehabilitators are trained citizens who are licensed by the state to treat injured, sick and orphaned indigenous wildlife for release back into the wild. There are over one hundred licensed wildlife rehabilitators in Wisconsin, with multiple facilities located in each WDNR region. The majority of these wildlife rehabilitators accept wildlife not only from their own county, but adjacent counties, as well. They work with thousands of wild animals every year and, in the process, collect biological and health information on over 200 species of the state's wildlife. Many of these species are declining in the state as a result of a variety of factors, known and unknown, and some of these species are even listed as threatened or endangered.
Wisconsin Audubon Council, Inc.
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The project is expanding survey locations throughout the state and increasing the number of volunteers to fill in gaps on salamander occurrence and distribution. This is only the project in Wisconsin monitoring salamanders. Data collected in this project will provide useful data to WDNR, the Herp Atlas Project and to other agencies, projects and individual ecologists. In 2007-08, the project's first year, seven expert advisors developed a protocol for long-term monitoring, recommended potential survey sites and functional traps, and produced training materials for monitors. Volunteer monitors will choose different sites next year, and then return to their original site the third year.
Milwaukee County Zoo
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Establishing a Mobile Acoustic Bat-monitoring Station for Citizen-based Monitoring in Milwaukee County
Urban Ecology Center
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Racine BEAM (Bat Education, Awareness, and Monitoring)
The UW-Parkside Center for Community Partnerships in partnership with the St. Catherine’s High School Environmental Club
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The Milwaukee County Zoo, Urban Ecology Center, and UW-Parkside Center for Community Partnerships received funding to share a mobile bat monitoring unit. There are three separate bat monitoring periods and each organization will monitor for a 2 month period. The three monitoring periods are: 1) April-May 2) June-July & 3) August-September.

Trained volunteers will be organized into research groups to focus on land-based and water-based monitoring. All the organizations will use the monitoring in educational programs and collected data will help contribute to the long-term information needs for Wisconsin bat conservation. This project will work in conjunction with Dave Redell, DNR Bat Ecologist, to fulfill the data needs of the Wisconsin Bat Conservation & Management Plan.
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