State plans voluntary conservation
The DNR will use $1 million in federal funds to protect
By Anna Krejci
Green Bay News-Chronicle
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is turning
to local residents and specialists for suggestions on
how to voluntarily protect species in Wisconsin from appearing
on an endangered and threatened species list.
The department, with the help of university experts and
professionals outside the department, has already identified
163 species "of greatest conservation need"
in the state. A small percentage of the species are on
an endangered list already. A total of 556 species were
The department intends to protect the 163 identified
species of wildlife by designing a plan that makes Wisconsin
eligible for $1 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service's State Wildlife Grants Program. In recent years,
Wisconsin has received similar funds from the federal
The federal funds will be dispersed to organizations
outside of the DNR that apply for grant money. Grants
will be awarded based on the quality of the conservation
projects presented. Robinson said the DNR is in the process
of determining what types of organizations will be eligible.
By October, the department intends to complete the Comprehensive
Wildlife Conservation Plan for which it has enlisted the
help of DNR specialists and others. The DNR initiated
the plan's design in late 2003 and in the spring it will
make public a draft of the plan. It will outline how to
implement conservation goals.
Pat Robinson, Northeast Wisconsin's regional ecologist
for the DNR, said local property owners can do things
themselves to conserve forested and wetland areas in Brown
It can be anything from growing tall grasses or other
vegetation around a river or creek to creating a habitat
for certain species to transforming grassland into forest
by planting trees, Robinson said. Local governments could
opt to incorporate a scarce habitat into their individual
comprehensive plans, plans recently required by state
law in which local communities make long-range development
plans encompassing diverse land use, transportation methods
and housing options.
Robinson cited some examples of local species that warrant
greater conservation concern. The pickerel frog, wood
turtle, Caspian tern, American woodcock and the woodland
jumping mouse are on the list.
"These 163 species are part of the entire wildlife
that makes up this area," Robinson said. Guarding
the birds, mammals, fish and amphibian populations is
important because they form a hunting and fishing base
for sport, make for enjoyable wildlife observation and
contribute to the food chain, he said.
Some of the species on the list are significant because
their population in Wisconsin is larger than anywhere
else in the country or in the world.
Such species include the Blanding's turtle, lake sturgeon,
canvasback duck and the Canada warbler.
Organizations that have been working on the plan with
the DNR include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the
Wisconsin Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Great Lakes
Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Wisconsin Association
of Lakes, Milwaukee Public Museum, The Ruffed Grouse Society,
Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, WE Energies,
the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Natural
Resources Foundation, Gathering Waters, University of
Wisconsin-Madison, USDA/NRCS and the Wisconsin Society
Area residents, conservationists and species experts
can attend an informational meeting on the plan 1-3:30
p.m. or 6-8:30 p.m. Monday at the UW-Extension, Agriculture
and Extension Service Center, 1150 Bellevue St. For more
information, call Robinson at 492-5894.