Wisconsin Wetlands Association released the Wetland Gems™ List in May 2009 as part of American Wetlands Month and hosted a series of events at Wetland Gem™ sites around the state to publicize the program and give citizens the chance to explore Wetland Gems™ up close. WWA continues to offer field trips to Wetland Gem™ sites and is delighted to help promote events sponsored by our partners at these wetland treasures. The promotion of these partner events supports our mission to protect, restore and enjoy wetlands and associated ecosystems through science-based programs, education and advocacy. However, we ask that you contact the sponsoring organization via the website links provided for more information and registration. See our Calendar for details.


REPORTS & PHOTOS FROM 2009 WETLAND GEMS™ KICKOFF EVENTS
Celebration and Announcement of Statewide Wetland Gems™ List
Celebration of Northeast Region Wetland Gem™ Sites
Celebration of Superior Region Wetland Gem™ Sites
Celebration of North Central Region Wetland Gem™ Sites
Celebration of West Region Wetland Gem™ Sites
Celebration of Central Region Wetland Gem™ Sites
Celebration of Southeast Coastal Region Wetland Gem™ Sites
Celebration of Northwest Region Wetland Gem™ Sites


WWA Announces Wisconsin’s 100 Wetland Gems™

Amidst calls of red-winged blackbirds and sandhill cranes, WWA announced our statewide list of 100 Wetland Gems™ at a celebration on May 18, 2009. The event, held at Cherokee Marsh in Madison (itself a Gem), was attended by more than 100 landowners, conservation partners, members, decision-makers, dignitaries, partners, friends and the media, who enjoyed the midday celebration despite threatening skies and blustery wind.

Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Secretary Matt Frank, and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk’s Chief of Staff, Topf Wells, spoke as part of the ceremony, reflecting the need for continued work at the regional and statewide level to protect and restore wetlands.

WWA Board Chair Mary Linton and Becky Abel had the honor of presenting certificates to Wetland Gems™ landowners in recognition of their conservation and stewardship of these important wetland resources.

Thanks to the Friends of Cherokee Marsh, WDNR’s Sue Joshef and Greg Matthews, and the businesses who donated refreshments and services for their assistance with this great event!

Madison Alder Michael Schumacher, WDNR Sec. Matt Frank, and Dane Co. Executive Chief of Staff Topf Wells listen on as Becky Abel announces the Wetland Gems™. Photo by Tod Highsmith. Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton spoke eloquently about the importance of wetlands. Photo by Erin O’Brien.

Anne Thundercloud of the Ho-Chunk Nation receives a Wetland Gems™ certificate for the Kickapoo Valley Reserve from WWA Board Chair Mary Linton. Photo by Monika Blazs. Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, Jim O’Brien, Rep. Kelda Roys, Sun Prairie Mayor Joe Chase, Joy Zedler, and Penny Shackelford enjoying the celebration. Photo by Monika Blazs.
Becky Abel looks on as WWA Board Chair Mary Linton presents WDNR Southeast Region Director Gloria McCutcheon with her Wetland Gems™ certificate. Photo by Monika Blazs. Penny Klein receives her Wetland Gems™ certificate from WWA Board Chair Mary Linton for the City of Middleton’s Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Photo by Monika Blazs.


Northeast Region Wetland Gems™ Celebrated

WWA was delighted to join with the Door County Festival of Nature over Memorial Day weekend, 2009, to celebrate Northeast Wisconsin’s Wetland Gems™. The Festival, in its seventh year, is a three-day program of guided field trips and presentations, highlighting the incredible natural beauty and diversity of Door County. More than 50 field trips were offered this year, including twelve field trips to five Wetland Gems™ sites in Door County (Kangaroo Lake, Mink River Estuary, Moonlight Bay & Connected Wetlands, North Bay, and Shivering Sands & Connected Wetlands).

Outreach Programs Director Katie Beilfuss gave a special evening presentation describing the Wetland Gems™ program and joined with 1st Assembly District Representative Gary Bies in recognizing Wetland Gems™ landowners in the region. Mike Grimm, Conservation Ecologist with The Nature Conservancy in Door County, offered his insights on the importance of each of the fourteen beautiful Wetland Gems™ sites in the Northeast Region. Click here for a map and list of these fifteen Wetland Gems™.

Coggin Heeringa shares her love and knowledge of the Mink River Estuary during the Door County Festival of Nature field trip. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. Chuck Lauter leads an enthusiastic group through the Ephraim Swamp, part of the Moonlight Bay & Connected Wetlands Wetland Gem™ site. Photo by Brooke Bushman.
Field trip leader Gary Fewless points out some of the interesting features of Toft Point, part of the Moonlight Bay & Connected Wetlands Wetland Gem™ site. Photo by Brooke Bushman. Ridges Sanctuary Executive Director Steve Leonard receives a Wetland Gems™ certificate from WWA’s Katie Beilfuss for the Sanctuary’s property within the Moonlight Bay & Connected Wetlands Wetland Gem™ site. Photo by Brooke Bushman.


Superior Region Wetland Gems™ Celebrated

The celebration of the Superior Region’s Wetland Gems™, held July 23, 2009 at a city park in Superior, drew a crowd of conservation partners, members, and elected officials. Executive Director Becky Abel spoke to the gathering from a point overlooking the St. Louis River Estuary -- an apt spot from which to share thoughts on the important connections between all water bodies and WWA’s hopes that Wetland Gems™ will help elevate public awareness of wetlands and their importance to our state’s rivers, lakes, and economy. Representative Nick Milroy from the 73rd District offered his thoughts on how a municipality’s health and sustainability can be tied to its wetlands. The City of Superior’s Charlene Johnson talked about the city’s success controlling invasive purple loosestrife in their abundant wetlands.

Following the presentation, guests mingled and enjoyed a lunch donated by the City of Superior. To cap the day, local paddlers Mike Anderson and Bob Craigen led field trips to explore and enjoy the Pokegama Wetlands and the St. Louis River Marshes -- both Wetland Gems™.

Warren Bender, Becky Abel, Mary Morgan (City of Superior Parks), Brooke Bushman, and Bob Finsland, Mick MacKenzie, and Chuck Hendry (City of Superior City Council members). Photo by Mike Anderson. Douglas Co. Board Members Kathryn McKenzie and Doug Finn and Douglas County Administrator Steve Koszarek accept a certificate; Becky Abel and Rep. Nick Milroy (and his son). Photo by Mike Anderson.
Becky Abel, Rep. Nick Milroy (with his son) and Laura Armagost from the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Photo by Mike Anderson. Becky Abel, Rep. Nick Milroy (with his son) , Naomi Tillison and Erv Souliere from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Photo by Mike Anderson.
Becky Abel, Rep. Nick Milroy (with his son) present DNR Northern Region Director John Gozdzialski and DNR Northern Area Supervisor Fred Strand with a certificate recognizing the Wisconsin DNR’s Northern Region for its efforts to protect and manage Wetland Gems™. Photo by Mike Anderson.



North Central Region Wetland Gems™ Celebrated

WWA was joined by conservation partners, members, and elected officials in celebrating the Wetland Gems™ of North Central Wisconsin at a wonderful event held August 13, 2009 in partnership with the North Lakeland Discovery Center, who hosted at their beautiful facility on the shores of Statehouse Lake in Vilas County. Bryce Luchterhand, Director of Governor Doyle’s northern office, spoke of the Governor’s belief in the importance of wetlands to Wisconsin’s valuable waters. Wetland Gem™ landowners in the North Central region, which include Barron County, Langlade County, the USDA Forest Service, the Village of Haugen, and WDNR, were presented with certificates of recognition for their work to protect these important wetland sites.

Our thanks to the North Lakeland Discovery Center for all of the work they did for this event, including donating the delicious food. Additional thanks to the field trip leaders Zach Wilson and Licia Johnson from the Discovery Center, who led a field trip on the Center’s bog boardwalk, and DNR Regional Ecologist Ryan Magana and Trout Lake Station biologist Susan Knight, to led a tour to Toy Lake Swamp, a nearby Wetland Gem.

Bryce Luchterhand, Northern Office Director Governor Jim Doyle, addresses the crowd. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.
Becky Abel, Bryce Luchterhand and Linda Parker, US Forest Service. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. Becky Abel, Bryce Luchterhand and Dave Solin, Langlade County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.
Becky Abel, Bryce Luchterhand with Tom Jerow of WDNR. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. Zach Wilson, Discovery Center Naturalist, led a field trip on the Center's bog boardwalk. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.
Photo by Becky Abel. Susan Knight from Trout Lake Station was one of the leaders of the trip to the Toy Lake Swamp Wetland Gem™. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.


West Region Wetland Gems™ Celebrated

The beautiful Kickapoo Valley Reserve served as the backdrop for the celebration of Western Wisconsin’s Wetland Gems™ on Saturday, August 29, 2009 attended by conservation partners, friends, and community members. Wisconsin Wetlands Association was delighted to welcome Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland, State Senator Dan Kapanke, and State Representative Lee Nerison, who each offered comments on the importance of wetland conservation to the people they represent. River Alliance of Wisconsin Executive Director Denny Caneff also addressed the event, commenting on the important connections between rivers and wetlands, particularly in Western Wisconsin’s driftless landscape.

Wetland Gem™ landowners in the West region, which include Ho-Chunk Nation, the State of Wisconsin, USFWS, National Park Service, US Department of Defense and WDNR, were presented with certificates of recognition for their work to protect these important wetland sites.

Following the program, more than twenty children and adults enjoyed the unusually cool weather for a tour of some of the Reserve’s important wetlands with Kickapoo Valley Reserve managers Jason Leis and Ben Johnson, JFNew botanist Nicole Staskowski, and Ho-Chunk Nation Biologist Randy Poelma.

Our thanks to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and the Ho-Chunk Nation for partnering with us on this event, to the Friends of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve for providing refreshments, and to everyone who contributed to the success of the event and field trips.

Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland receives a certificate of recognition from WWA Executive Director Becky Abel, Senator Dan Kapanke, and Representative Lee Nerison for the Nation’s work to protect and manage the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, a Wetland Gem™. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. Tex Hawkins accepts a certificate of recognition from WWA Executive Director Becky Abel, Senator Dan Kapanke, and Representative Lee Nerison on behalf of the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s work to protect and manage Wetland Gems™ in Western Wisconsin. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.
Kickapoo Valley Reserve staff Jason Leis and Ben Johnson, Ho-Chunk Nation biologist Randy Poelma, and Reserve Management Board Vice Chair William Quackenbosh receive a certificate of recognition from WWA Executive Director Becky Abel, Senator Dan Kapanke, and Representative Lee Nerison for their collective work to protect and manage the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, a Wetland Gem™. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. Dave Pericak, WDNR West Central Region Aquatic Habitat Coordinator, accepts a certificate of recognition from WWA Executive Director Becky Abel, Senator Dan Kapanke, and Representative Lee Nerison on behalf of the Wisconsin DNR’s work to protect and manage Wetland Gems™ in the West region. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.
Nicole Staskowski (at right) explains the techniques for identifying wetland sedges, grasses, and reeds during the field trip. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. WWA Board Member Galen Smith identifies the world’s smallest flowering plant to field trippers. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.


Central Region Wetland Gems™ Celebrated

More than 50 people joined WWA in celebrating Central Wisconsin’s Wetland Gems™ at the 9th Annual Whooping Crane & Wildlife Festival in Necedah on September 19, 2009. WWA Outreach Programs Director Katie Beilfuss provided an overview of the Wetland Gems™program. Randy Hoffman, State Natural Areas ecologist with the DNR, provided an overview of the Wetland Gems™ sites of Central Wisconsin, highlighting the important features of each site. Did you know that Jay Creek supports vegetation otherwise only found along the Eastern seaboard?

Representative Ed Brooks of Wisconsin Assembly District 42 spoke of his own experiences in the wetlands of Juneau County and his pride in the whooping crane recovery effort, then joined Katie in recognizing landowners of Wetland Gem™ sites in the region, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (for sites in the DNR’s West Central and Northeast Regions), Jackson County, Clark County, The Nature Conservancy, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Following the program, Randy Hoffman led a field trip to the Suk-Cerney wetlands in the southeast corner of the Refuge, on land leased and managed by the Wisconsin DNR. The recent dry weather made for easier-than-usual navigation of these wetlands on foot. It was plain to see why this vast expanse of continuous wetland and upland habitat is recognized as a Wetland Gem™.

WWA thanks all who attended the Central Wisconsin Wetland Gems™ celebration, and in particular appreciates the efforts of Larry Wargowsky and Dan Peterson of the USFWS, the Lions Festival Organizing Committee, Randy Hoffman, Representative Brooks, and Alexia Sabor for making the event such a success. Additional thanks to writer-wildlife photographer Stephen Norling for his event photos.

Representative Ed Brooks of the 50th Assembly District addressed the gathering, touting the importance of wetlands. Photo by Stephen Norling. WWA is grateful to DNR Ecologist Randy Hoffman not only for his role in the Central Wisconsin Gems Event, but also for his instrumental role in developing the Wetland Gems™ program. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.
WWA Outreach Director Katie Beilfuss, Nature Conservancy Land Steward Hannah Spaul, Necedah Refuge Manager Larry Wargowsky, Rep. Ed Brooks, Clark County Forestry & Parks Committee Chair Jeff Kolzow, Mead Wildlife Area Naturalist Patrice Eyers, and DNR Area Wildlife Manager Tom Nigus pause for the camera following the landowner recognition ceremony. Photo by Alexia Sabor. Guests enjoyed the beautiful fall weather on a tour of Suk-Cerney Wetlands. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.

Southeast Coastal Region Wetland Gems™ Celebrated

Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) was pleased to partner with The Nature Conservancy, the Village of Pleasant Prairie, and the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund to celebrate the Wetland Gems™ of southeast Wisconsin on September 26, 2009. The Village’s Donald H. Wruck Pavilion was the perfect location for the event with its location adjacent to the Des Plaines River Floodplain and Marshes, one of twelve Wetland Gems™ sites being recognized during the event. WWA Board Chair Mary Linton provided a warm welcome to the celebration on the cool and foggy fall morning, and was followed by Outreach Programs Director Katie Beilfuss, who provided and overview of the Wetland Gems™ sites in the region. Senator Bob Wirch and Representative John Steinbrink each offered their thoughts on the importance of wetlands for southeast Wisconsin. Rep. Steinbrink’s comments also reflected his two other important jobs: that of President of the Village of Pleasant Prairie and local grain farmer.

Landowners recognized at the event included the Kenosha-Racine Land Trust, Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Racine County, The Nature Conservancy, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, the Village of Germantown, the Village of Pleasant Prairie, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

A special presentation by Pat Morton of The Nature Conservancy recognized the important contributions of the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund to fundraising efforts that made the recent acquisition of additional parcels at Chiwaukee Prairie by The Nature Conservancy possible. Pam Holy, Kay McClelland, Eric Howe, and Lori Artiomow from the CCPF accepted a beautiful certificate of recognition for the group’s efforts.

WWA extends special thanks to Jean Werbie and Jan Petrovic at the Village of Pleasant Prairie, Trish Stocking, Cate Harrington, Pat Morton, and Mo O’Brien at The Nature Conservancy, and Pam Holy of the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund for their assistance with organizing this event, and to all of the field trip leaders. We had a terrific field trip to Chiwaukee Prairie, where we were all able to see the gorgeous fall foliage - including the blooming fringed gentians.

(L to R) Katie Beilfuss (WWA), Dave Prott (Racine Co.), Rep. Steinbrink, Pat Morton (TNC), Eric Howe (Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund), Brian Russert (Milwaukee Co.), Jim Reinartz (UWM Cedarburg Bog), Senator Wirch, John Skalbeck (UW Parkside), Nancy Pierce (Kenosha-Racine Land Trust), David Rogers (UW Parkside), Gloria McCutcheon (WDNR), Marty Johnson (WDNR), Jean Werbie (Village of Pleasant Prairie), Joy Wolf (UW Parkside). Photo by Brooke Bushman. Mary Linton and Senator Bob Wirch with Representative John Steinbrink, who is also the President of the Village of Pleasant Prairie, accepting a Wetland Gems™ certificate for the Pleasant Prairie’s protection and management of Chiwaukee Prairie and the Des Plaines River Floodplain & Marshes. Photo by Brooke Bushman.
Pam Holy of the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund discusses the project history during the field trip. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. More than 30 people joined in for a tour of the Wetland Gem™ Chiwaukee Prairie following the presentation. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.
Pat Morgan, Mukwonago River Watershed and Chiwaukee Prairie Project Director for The Nature Conservancy, praised the work of the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund for their assistance in raising funds to make the acquisition of additional acreage at Chiwaukee Prairie possible. Photo by Brooke Bushman.



Northwest Region Wetland Gems Celebrated

WWA was delighted to be a part of the Fall Wildlife Festival at Crex Meadows in Burnett County for our eighth and final Wetland Gems celebration on October 4, 2009. The weather certainly heralded the arrival of fall, echoed by the brilliant fall colors beginning to turn in the trees. Natural Resources Board member Dave Clausen shared his thoughts about the importance of wetlands and the services they provide our communities. Dave joined Executive Director Becky Abel in honoring the region’s Wetland Gem landowners, National Park Service, Douglas County, and WDNR, with certificates of recognition for their work to protect these important wetland sites.

Following the presentation, an enthusiastic group headed out on a school bus to tour Crex Meadows at dusk. Despite the sprinkles we all reveled in the beauty of trumpeter swans, geese, and thousands of sandhill cranes coming in to roost in Crex’s vast wetlands.

Our thanks to the Friends of Crex and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, in particular Jim Hoefler, for their help in making this event such a success.

Becky Abel describes the Wetland Gems™ campaign at the Crex event. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. Sandhill cranes, Trumpeter swans, and Canada geese share the rich water resources at Crex Meadows. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.
The field trip's youngest member, Theo, takes a moment to enjoy the view. Photo by Katie Beilfuss. WWA Staff Becky Abel and Brooke Bushman admire the wetland resources of Crex Meadows. Photo by Katie Beilfuss.





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Many individuals contributed to this project, including site property owners, members of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wetland Team, and many other partners and natural resource experts. Special thanks to Eric Epstein, Randy Hoffman, Mary Linton, Tod Highsmith and Carolyn Sandberg for exceptionally generous contributions of time and expertise. Laura England, former WWA Outreach Programs Director, led the Wetland Gems™ project with assistance from Katie Beilfuss, then WWA Programs Manager, and Becky Abel, former WWA Executive Director.

The McKnight Foundation, which seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grantmaking, coalition-building and encouragement of strategic policy reform, funded the portion of this project focusing on Mississippi River Basin regions.

Funding for the coastal regions portion of this project provided by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act, Grant # NA07NOS4190064.