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Conference Abstracts by Primary Author

Loren Ayers, Terrestrial Ecologist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

From Picasso to Da Vinci: What is the Resource Monitoring Picture in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has a lot of projects, programs, and budding ideas for good resource monitoring projects. Unfortunately, few are interconnected in their location, methods, objectives, spatial scales, timeline, advertising, incentives, reporting plans, or overall direction. We have an array of important projects and programs, but lack a larger vision or plan to bring the surveys and information together. Several states have systematic biotic inventories and the USFS and USGS are testing new protocols for multi-species monitoring programs. We will illustrate some of these programs and offer ideas for establishing a coordinated monitoring and data sharing network in Wisconsin.

Jeff Bode, Lakes and Wetlands Section Chief, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Citizen Lake Monitoring - Status & Trends

Mary Jane Bumby, Green Lake Association

Self-Help Monitoring - A Wisconsin Lake

The health of lake water gives an indication of how we do on land within the watershed. I will show and discuss Green Lake's (Green Lake County) Secchi disk data (usually collected May to Oct) and its watershed. According to these estimated average yearly data from 1980-2003: first, valid differences in these measurements show drought times (clear lake) and rainy times (turbid lake); second, a trend exists showing some improvement in lake clarity. In addition, the east end of the lake is more turbid than the west end. About 68% of the 114 sq mi watershed's area drains into the eastern part of the lake. Because of "Big" Green Lake's size and depth, monitoring occurs at both an east and west deep-water station of the lake. At the time of Secchi disk readings, records are taken of temperatures of the air and surface water, color of the water and 17 ft vertical plankton tows for later microscope observations. Digital camera used.

Cory Counard-MacNulty, Ecologist/LoonWatch Coordinator, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute of Northland College


LoonWatch was established in 1978 in response to growing concerns about the shrinking range of Common Loons in the Upper Midwest. With an active network of volunteers, LoonWatch works to protect Common Loons and their aquatic habitats through education, monitoring and research. Approximately 200 citizen volunteers monitor loons each year, providing long-term loon reproduction data at individual lakes in Wisconsin. LoonWatch volunteers also participate in a survey every 5 years to estimate Wisconsin’s loon population.

Dana Curtiss, Illinois EcoWatch Network, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Creating a Successful Statewide Monitoring Program: Recommendations from Ten Years Experience of the Illinois EcoWatch Network

Illinois EcoWatch Network is a statewide terrestrial and aquatic volunteer monitoring program. After 10 years there are several lessons learned that are worth sharing with others. Topics such as setting organizational goals and philosophies, benefits of piloting, dealing with outside political considerations will be addressed. EcoWatch’s mistakes and misdirections will be presented to illustrate the lessons learned.

Danielle Donkersloot, Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

NJ Watershed Watch Network: A Collaborated Effort Between the Volunteer Community and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection

Over the past year, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program has been remodeled to establish consistency across the state in terms of who is collecting data and for what purpose. This presentation will discuss the approach that is being used in NJ to collect and use volunteer data. The presentation will include a description of the four-tiered approach to volunteer monitoring: Tier A-Environmental Education, Tier B-Stewardship, Tier C-Community and/ Watershed Level Assessment, Tier D-Indicators/Regulatory Response. Each tier has a specified data users group, data uses and data quality requirements. This will allow for volunteers to collect data that is acceptable to the NJDEP standards, and provide volunteers with a process for submitting data. This presentation will also discuss the collaboration effort between the NJDEP and volunteer monitors throughout the state by using two advisory committees and the Office of Outreach and Education. The Internal Advisory Committee consists of water quality data users and water resource managers throughout the NJDEP. This committee has a vested interest in being able to insure the level of quality assurance needed for data collection which varies from low to high levels of rigor. The second committee is the Watershed Watch Network Council, which consists of volunteer monitoring representatives throughout the state. Their programs vary from tidal, freshwater, chemical, visual, habitat, and biological, and are customized to their watershed’s needs.

Miles Falck, Wildlife Biologist, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission

Utilizing the Internet and GIS to Coordinate Regional Control Efforts for Purple Loosestrife

GLIFWC has compiled data on purple loosestrife distribution and control efforts from several sources to help guide and coordinate control efforts by resource managers and citizen volunteers. The data are presented in an interactive GIS database via the Internet at:

Laura Felda-Marquardt, Invasive Species Lakes Specialist, University of Wisconsin Extension Stevens Point

Clean Boats, Clean Waters a fighting chance!

No one likes to fight, but when it comes to protecting Wisconsin waterways from aquatic invasive plants, that’s something to fight about! Clean Boats, Clean Waters, volunteer watercraft inspection program, began in 2003 to assist volunteers to organize and conduct a boater education program in their community. Trained adult and youth teams educate boaters on how and where invasive species are most likely to hitch a ride into waterbodies. By performing boat and trailer checks, distributing informational brochures and collecting and reporting suspect specimens; volunteers can make a difference in helping to prevent the spread of invasive species. This presentation will describe how to organize a statewide volunteer effort to battle invasive species and review the valuable data volunteers are collecting at the boat landings.

Dale Luecht, Environmental Scientist, USEPA/R5/WATER Division

An Overview of Volunteer Stream Monitoring and Lake Monitoring in Region 5 States (IL, IN, OH, MI, MN & WI) as of February 2004

The information discussed on Volunteer Monitoring of Water Quality will be limited to collecting chemical, physical and biological parameters that characterize a segment of a stream or an area of a lake. What, When, How, Who and Why you collect Volunteer monitoring water quality data will be described and compared for Region 5 states for streams and for lakes. The Central Data Exchange that is under development by USEPA, States, and Tribes will when implemented allow government and private citizens easy access to a vast amount of environmental data across the USA that can be accessed from a desk top computer by asking relatively simple questions.

Mike Miller, Water Resources Management Specialist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Water Action Volunteers' Citizen Stream Monitoring Program

Karen Oberhauser, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota

The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project

The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project involves a network of citizen scientists stretching across North America in a long-term study of monarch butterflies. These volunteer monitors conduct weekly monarch and milkweed surveys to document how monarch populations vary in time and space. The results of these efforts aid monarch conservation, result in increased understanding of the process of science for the volunteers and others, and advance our understanding of butterfly ecology. Learn about the methods and findings of the project, and see how we've engaged and supported volunteers in this intensive monitoring effort.

Erin O'Brien, River Alliance of Wisconsin

Community-Based Water Quality Monitoring: A Viable Path to Cleaner Water

Andy Paulios, Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI) Coordinator and Wildlife Biologist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Birders as Citizen Scientists: Past, Present & Future!

Birders and amateur ornithologists have a long and storied history of contribution to our understanding of avian ecology and populations. Long-running surveys like the Christmas Bird Count and the Federal Breeding Bird Survey have helped track changes in bird populations and have helped galvanize support for conservation action. Currently thousands of birders participate in a number of programs across the country, and current initiatives will require even more effort from citizen scientists if we are to understand how all of our bird species are faring in today’s world.

Mark D. Schwartz, President, Wisconsin Phenological Society and Professor of Geography, UW-Milwaukee

Building a State and National Phenological Network

Monitoring of spring plant phenology is an important way to assess the impact of global warming on the biosphere. A nationwide network is being created with volunteer observers.

Jeremy Solin, Wisconsin School Forest Education Specialist, LEAF Program - WI K-12 Forestry Ed Program, Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Wisconsin School Forests: Opportunities for Student Monitoring

This session will provide an overview of the Wisconsin School Forest program. With nearly 1/2 of the school districts in the state having a registered school forest, these sites present a great opportunity to develop a network of student science monitoring projects.

Russ Tooley, President, Centerville CARES
Doug Rossberg, Basin Supervisor, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Citizen Monitoring - Keys to Success

Doug and Russ will present keys to successfully forming a volunteer monitoring group. Their experience in channeling the energy of citizens concerned about pollution in local streams will be helpful to anyone charged with organizing a group. This presentation will feature practical, specific tips that will work in any community.

Nancy Turyk, Water Resource Scientist, Center for Watershed Science and Education, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Volunteer Water Monitoring Support through the UWSP Center for Watershed Science and Education

UWSP has water programs that have provided support to citizens for more than 25 years in groundwater, lake, and river monitoring efforts. We support citizens that are conducting the monitoring with training in appropriate sampling techniques, database management, and interpretation of data. We also work side-by-side with citizens on detailed assessments of their lakes, rivers, and watersheds.

Paul Tweed, Beaver Creek Reserve

Wisconsin NatureMapping

Wisconsin NatureMapping began one year ago as a partnership between the Wi. DNR Aquatic and Terrestiral Resource Inventory and Beaver Creek Citizen Science Center in Fall Creek. NatureMapping is a statewide program designed to involve the public in helping inventory the states vertebrate resources. Other special NatureMapping projects such as invasive plant inventories are also under development. Wisconsin NatureMapping in parntership with Pathfinder Science, has developed the first in the nation completely online GIS data collection and visualization system that is customizable for a wide variety of research and monitoring involving a geographic component.

Volunteer Monitoring Task Force
Cory Counard-MacNulty, Northland College
Laura Felda-Marquardt, UW-Extension, Stevens Point
Nancy Turyk, UW-Stevens Point

Results and Recommendations from the Survey of Wisconsin Volunteer Monitoring Programs

We'll give an overview of the volunteer monitoring task force- who is involved, why it was formed, and what our current goals are (to determine the status of volunteer environmental monitoring in WI). Then we'll explain the survey we created, and briefly describe who we solicited for responses. We'll then cover responses to the survey in detail, describing why and when volunteer monitoring programs were initiated, what sort of support they offer their volunteers, how they use their data, and who their data users are, and what their most significant concerns are with operating their programs. We follow that up by sharing our respondents input re: whether to establish a statewide network of volunteer monitoring programs. We'll mention specific benefits and drawbacks they noted in the survey. Finally, we close by offering a list of potential next steps for the volunteer monitoring task force.

Suzanne Wade, Basin Educator, Rock River Basin

Water Action Volunteers’ Citizen Stream Monitoring Program

Water Action Volunteers (WAV) is a statewide program for Wisconsin citizens who want to learn about and improve the quality of Wisconsin’s streams and rivers. The program is coordinated through a partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the University of Wisconsin - Cooperative Extension. Citizens, civic groups, 4-H clubs, students and other volunteer groups are participating in WAV programs across the state. WAV currently offers informational materials and support for citizen stream monitoring, as well as storm drain stenciling, river cleanups and other action-oriented water resource protection projects.

Paul West, Director of Conservation Science, The Nature Conservancy

Designing a Statewide Volunteer Monitoring Program

Jane Wiedenhoeft, Endangered Mammal Database Manager/Tracker, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Sarah Boles, Wildlife Technician, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Counting Wolves and Other Carnivores (with a little help from our friends)

Wisconsin's Volunteer Carnivore Tracking Program was developed by the Department of Natural Resources in 1995, primarily to help monitor Wisconsin's growing and expanding wolf population and to search for other rare carnivores such as lynx and cougar. Volunteers are required to attend two training courses after which they are assigned to one or more of the 133 track survey blocks in northern and central Wisconsin. Volunteers are asked to complete at least three good track surveys in their block over the course of the winter snow tracking season. More than 450 people participated in volunteer track surveys between 1995 and 2003. In most years, volunteers have allowed us to double the amount of miles covered in snow track surveys. Statistical analyses have shown that both training and experience are important aspects in considering the usability of the volunteer data. Data from volunteers who have completed training and have 40 hours tracking experience is used in combination with other data sources to determine the overwinter wolf count and to map wolf distribution in the state. Volunteers have become an important part of our integrated approach to monitoring Wisconsin's wolf population.

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