The quarterly electronic newsletter of the
Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium
Nearly 150 volunteers collaborated to map four non-native invasive plant species in eight southeastern Wisconsin counties last summer, and the data keeps pouring in.
Eight County Leaders were selected to recruit mapping teams of two for each township in the SEWISC region. Team members received training, data sheets and maps which were provided by County GIS Departments and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee American Geographic Society Library. The volunteers collectively surveyed more than 11,000 miles of roadways, devoting over 1,200 hours to the project.
SEWISC's 2011 Invasive Plant Roadside Survey covered all roads with lane markings within Sheboygan, Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha Counties. Township Mapping Teams also performed surveys focusing on areas in or near primary and secondary environmental corridors and isolated natural resource areas.
Giant reed grass (Phragmites australis) was mapped in 799 locations, common and cut-leaved teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris and D. laciniatus) were mapped in 1,125 locations and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) was mapped in 133 locations.
These species were selected because they are, 1) common, but still in early stages of infestation in our region, 2) not uniformly spread throughout the region, 3) spreading along roadways, and 4) easy to recognize throughout the year. Although these species have limited distribution in southeastern Wisconsin, each has the potential to spread rapidly along roadsides and rights-of-way. With training, these species were safely identified and mapped by teams of two or more travelling on foot, bicycle or by vehicle.
A very brief summary of the survey instructions is as follows:
• Participants completed survey protocol training and submitted a liability release.
• Survey teams of at least two were required for each township. One team member was charged with safely driving the car while the passenger navigated and recorded populations on the map and data form.
• All populations visible from the road were recorded. A special effort to survey environmental corridors was made.
• Populations were recorded with a dot on the map and labeled with a number. Species and population size codes corresponding to that number were recorded on the data sheet. Populations which were located within the right-of-way were noted.
• All roads surveyed were marked with a highlighter on the map. Maps and data sheets were submitted to SEWISC and the survey data was entered into a digital geodatabase.
The majority of the mapped populations were relatively small, and teasel populations were, on average, smaller than either Japanese knotweed or Phragmites.
It was clear from the mapped populations of the species that they were not uniformly distributed throughout the eight-county region.
Japanese knotweed was the least common of the species, but had a concentration of populations in north-central Sheboygan County in the northern part of our region.
The teasels were very common, had a very high concentration in southern Ozaukee County, and were nearly absent from the northern part of the eight-county area.
Timely eradication of small populations of teasel in the northern part of the region can still prevent teasels from becoming a major problem there.
Phragmites was widely scattered, but tended to be found in concentrations where it must have first established, and from which it is spreading, including the I-94 highway corridor south of Milwaukee.
Data from this survey will increase the effectiveness of SEWISC's Invasive Species mapping and Management Workshops.
It will also provide the information park and right-of-way managers will need for planning efforts to control the establishment and spread of these species.
This project served to increase public awareness of the threats posed by invasive species, and to provide valuable information to guide future funding of control efforts.
Feedback from the volunteers also indicated that the survey was just plain fun!
Although an additional goal of the survey was to develop a network of dedicated volunteers needed to build a strong and sustainable invasive control program, an unexpected outcome was the subsequent formation of an "adopt-a-township" program.
Township Team Members continue to submit new (or missed) populations in their assigned mapping areas as they go about their daily business. All four of the 2011 target survey species can be easily identified throughout the winter, making them difficult for a seasoned mapper to ignore.
Using the GIS database we can produce detailed maps of population locations for any specific area of interest.
As surveyors and others transition from mapping to controlling populations, we will be able to provide them with detailed maps of the species that includes some information about population size.
That information will enable them to first target small and isolated populations to prevent further spread and quarantine the species to where it is already well established.
The data submitted by our mapping teams are entered into a Geographic Information System (GIS) database, which was developed by two University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin student interns majoring in Geography.
Initial inventory data were shared with two University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin students (one graduate and one undergraduate) for special geospatial class projects during the fall 2011 semester. Funding by a USEPA/US Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Assistance Agreement. allowed SEWISC to hire Marc White, White Ecological, as Coordinator to help design and manage the project.
The GIS database is continually updated as new populations are reported and the information will soon be shared with government agencies. The SEWISC Board of Directors will soon choose one new species to map in 2012, so the teams will hit the road again this summer.
By Brian Russart
It is always a special privilege to be a part of a dynamic organization that is supported by enthusiastic volunteers. The energy generated from that type of situation really propels successful organizations towards achieving lofty goals.
I really feel that SEWISC is beginning to mature into the type of organization that will be a leader in educating the residents of southeastern Wisconsin on the challenges presented by invasive species to all of our lives.
I could spend pages reminiscing about SEWISC's accomplishments in 2011. However, accomplishments no matter how impressive, reside in the past and it is to the future that we now turn our attention as an organization. We have been fortunate to once again receive a funding grant from our partners at the U.S. Forest Service. This year's funding will allow SEWISC to build on the foundation that it has so carefully laid. These resources will allow us as an organization to conduct the second annual roadside survey, which will generate precious data that we can then distribute to our partner organizations, local governments, and private landowners.
Last year's roadside surveys definitely showed the need for effective rapid response control of pioneering populations of select invasive species. With that challenge in mind, SEWISC will be working through the logistics of developing a pilot invasive species NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) team to assist private landowners and partner organizations within Ozaukee County. If this concept model works well, SEWISC can then work to develop similar teams in the rest of our focus counties.
Finally, the majority of the USFS funding will be going towards hiring the organization's first Executive Director. I am very excited to say that after an exhaustive search the best candidate was also the most logical choice. The Board of Directors has hired Jill Hapner, our former president, who knows SEWISC and its goals better than anyone else. She has been a proven leader within the organization and has the specific skills sets to advance our strategic plan, develop creative partnerships to assist with future funding, and assist with all the other vital logistical needs of a young organization.
SEWISC is looking forward to another exceptional year, and by working together with our partners and volunteers we will continue building on our previous endeavors.
Our website is about eight months old now and new material continues to be added on a regular basis. All you need to do is to type "SEWISC" into a search function and our webpage will be the first option. Or go to your address bar at the top of your internet page and type http://sewisc.org. The website is designed to make it simple for you to access information to help you identify an invasive and decide how to manage it.
When you visit the website you'll notice the scrolling display with several species. All you need to do is put your cursor on one of the species and the scrolling will stop. Then click twice and you can get a detailed explanation of the species.
We'll continue to add information on other species as the website develops.
Some of the latest additions are the invasive species flyers. The flyers are divided into four categories: 1) Widespread Invasive Plants, 2) Locally Established Invasive Plants, 3) Invasive Animals and 4) New Invasive Plants. The flyers will be reviewed and updated annually.
We distributed copies of the four flyers at our Annual SEWISC Symposium on Nov. 16, 2011. In case you couldn't attend or need additional copies, you can download them at our website. The handy pdf format will let you save a copy to your computer and then print it out. Stuff the flyers in your pocket to take along on a hike or keep some in the car.
I am the Conservation Specialist at the River Revitalization Foundation, I was hired primarily to implement riparian conservation projects on the Menomonee River, but as a very small land trust, my responsibilities run the gamut from grant writer, to restoration work, to administration. I completed a BS in Biological Aspects of Conservation at UW-Madison and a Master's in Environmental Science and Management at the Bren School in Santa Barbara, CA. I have worked for the National Park Service in Yellowstone NP, and for the Forest Service in several spots throughout the Eastern Sierras in California where I did everything from fisheries work to carnivore population studies. After almost seven years out west, I recently came back to my roots in Wisconsin when my fiancée, Joseph, and I moved to Milwaukee in June 2010. I love to explore the hidden, wild places in Wisconsin, go rock climbing, garden, and cook. We can usually be found doing these things with my Australian shepherd, Abbey.
I was born in Miami, Florida in May of 1990. My family and I moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1999 where I finished grade school and then attended Wilmot Union High School. I graduated from high school in 2008 and began my freshman year at UW-Milwaukee that fall pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a second degree in Conservation & Environmental Sciences. During my freshman and sophomore year of college I worked as a field assistant and active site manager for Eric Hileman in conducting research to estimate survival rates, abundance, population density, and sex ratios of the State threatened Butler’s garter snake. During my junior year I became a certified Volunteer Carnivore Tracker for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. This required that every winter I conduct three wolf tracking surveys to assist in the DNR’s winter census of our state’s population of wolves. Currently I work as a Milwaukee County Parks Natural Areas intern gaining valuable experience in the areas of land management, invasive species, and plant identification. I have been an intern for a year now and plan to continue the internship as long as I can! I have also been working for the past year as a Wildlife Technician for the Urban Ecology Center in Riverside Park, Milwaukee. I am in charge of conducting the Butler’s garter snake monitoring program. I will be working as a Wildlife Technician for the upcoming 2012 field season as well. I was on the Dean’s Honor List for the fall semester of 2011 and will be graduating this winter. After graduating I plan on attending graduate school for a master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology. I am looking forward to serving as a student board member for the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium!!
David Rogers is a plant ecologist with expertise in the flora and natural history of the Great Lakes region. He grew up in Green Bay, received his B.S. in Biology at the UW-Stevens Point. Following years of fieldwork around the U.S., he then earned an M.S. in Landscape Architecture where he studied the Atlantic Coastal Plain Disjunct plants in Central Wisconsin. He then earned his Ph.D. in Botany at UW-Madison where he used Curtis' baseline data from the early 1950s to study changes in southern Wisconsin forest understories. He is currently an assistant professor of biology at the UW–Parkside where he teaches environmental science, botany, ecology, conservation biology. His research focuses on long-term dynamics of Midwestern plant communities and the influence of current and past land-uses on meta-community dynamics.
Michael has been at Johnson's Nursery, Inc. in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin since 1980. He graduated in 1979 from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Horticulture.
Michael learned many of his propagation and plant selection skills while working with Herbert F. Trautman of Trautman Nurseries in Franksville, Wisconsin in the late 1970's.
Michael has been responsible for expanding the availability of a variety of native trees and shrubs from local genotype. He has also identified superior strains and cultivars of native plants for use in landscaping. He is a member of the Species Assessment Group for Invasive Woody Plants. This committee makes recommendations to the Governor's Council on Invasive Species as to which plant species should be regulated in the State of Wisconsin. Michael is an avid Green Bay Packers fan and in his spare time likes to read and write poetry.