Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc.


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2015 Garlic Mustard Pull-A-Thon

PULLING TOGETHER through some friendly competition

Our Garlic Mustard Pull-A-Thon is an annual fundraising event, where we encourage folks throughout southeastern Wisconsin to protect the woodlands of their neighborhoods by pulling this invasive plant. Our 2015 goal is to collectively pull 5,000 pounds and raise essential funds for the fight against invasive species – so join us!

The pull-a-thon is a competition, a fundraiser, and a way for people to join together and have a positive impact on their environment. Our natural areas will only avoid damage from invasives with a long-term sustained commitment to invasives control. Help raise funds for a sustainable invasives program at the same time that you help to reduce garlic mustard seed production in 2015.

spring news 1aAll proceeds will be used for invasive species education, prevention and control in southeastern Wisconsin and contributions are tax-deductible. The Pull-A-Thon Traveling Trophy and bragging rights will be awarded to the team with the most bags of pulled garlic mustard by June 30, 2015.

Pull-A-Thon Objectives:

• Promote repeated control and proper disposal of garlic mustard and dame’s rocket in our parks and natural areas.
• Promote public awareness of invasive species issues.
• Share control methods and best management practices with land owners and managers and strengthen local volunteer efforts.
• Raise operational funds for SEWISC and our partner organizations.

Please visit: 2015 Garlic Mustard Pull-A-Thon for more information on this exciting annual event. Register a team, join a team and/or donate to a team!

Join Volunteer Opportunities In Your Neighborhood

Web-based work day calendar

Get outside this spring with friends, family and co-workers and help to improve your neighborhood natural areas! You can find opportunities on our web-based Volunteer Work Day calendar. Easily view the calendar by choosing Volunteer Calendar under the Volunteer tab on our website home page and selecting any of the eight counties located in our region. Click on a posted event to access additional work day details such as location, time and contact information. Join the opportunities in your neighborhood!

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If your organization would like to advertise an event on the calendar, please choose the Volunteer Calendar under the Volunteer tab on our website home page and simply click the button to submit an event on the Work Days Event Submission Form. Make sure you include: 1) the name of your event, 2) date and time, 3) location with address, and 4) contact information. SEWISC Staff and volunteers will receive your event submission and post the information to our calendar as soon as possible.

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SEWISC Assistance Program

2014 awardee reports are in!

WeEnergiesFoundationFive aggressive invasive species control projects were funded through our 2014 SEWISC Assistance Program, which was generously sponsored by the We Energies Foundation. These efforts are summarized below:

SEWISC awarded $1,000 to the Friends of Lapham Peak to clear buckthorn, honeysuckle and black locust along the old Government Hill Road in Lapham Peak. Funding was used to purchase herbicide needed to complete the project which included cutting, stacking and burning the woody species with the aid of volunteers known as the “Buckthorn Busters” who dedicated 430 hours to the effort. Other partners involved with the project included the Ice Age Trail Alliance and local school groups such as the Kettle Moraine High School. Foliar spraying of the buckthorn re-sprouts is planned for fall of 2015, followed by dispersal of native seeds such as shooting star, bottlebrush grass and Virginia wild rye.

Riveredge Nature Center (RNC) was awarded $1,000 for a 5-acre vernal pond restoration project in the Riveredge Creek State Natural Area. The project focused on the continual removal and management of reed canary grass through chemical and mechanical techniques. This vernal pond serves as crucial breeding habitat for many reptiles and amphibians and is a hub for biological diversity and educational activities at RNC. SEWISC Assistance program funds were used to compensate RNC staff members, who organized and conducted the control efforts with the help of their dedicated volunteer base.

spring news 4aA $1,488 award was given to the River Revitalization Foundation (RRF) for removal of dense thickets of buckthorn and honeysuckle along the river, as well as re-establishing healthy sedge meadow by planting and seeding native southern hardwood forest tree species and understory species, such as nodding onion, compass plant, fox sedge, cardinal flower, and pale purple coneflower in the Milwaukee River Greenway. Management efforts were conducted on 26 riparian acres owned by RRF, as well on riparian land owned by partners, including Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture, and the Milwaukee Area Technical College. Our support provided RRF with supplies to effectively control common teasel, Japanese knotweed, buckthorn, honeysuckle, reed canary grass, thistle, garlic mustard, and burdock. RRF worked collaboratively with many student volunteers including the Cambridge Woods Neighborhood Association.

SEWISC awarded $1,150 to the Caledonia Conservancy Land Trust for invasive species control on 5 separate land parcels covering approximately 100 acres of mixed woodland, wetland, grassland and river floodplain habitat. The funds were used to purchase herbicide and personal protective safety equipment. This project focused on eliminating woody invasive species using the Conservancy’s dedicated volunteer base which includes several high schools within the Racine Unified School District as well as the Prairie School and UW-Parkside. The Conservancy Land Trust will also continue to engage local schools by hosting the School to Nature Program at several sites throughout the year.

A $766.50 award went to the Silver Lake Management District for a project using SCUBA divers to control a small population of Eurasian watermilfoil located near the south west corner of Silver Lake in Waukesha County. The funds provided by SEWISC were used to purchase equipment needed for the project. The Lake District engaged and educated 21 volunteers who helped to remove and bag the milfoil pulled by the divers.

Thank you to We Energies Foundation for supporting these vital efforts!

Wisconsin First Detector Network

Now enrolling for 2015

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Invasive species are expanding throughout the state of Wisconsin each year. While these species are often overlooked, they are impacting our state’s economy, environment, and even human health.

Wisconsin’s First Detector Network (WIFDN) was established in 2014 with the goal of training citizen scientists to help prevent these impacts by locating and reporting populations of invasive species. In the inaugural year WIFDN trained over 100 volunteers who contributed over 700 hours towards this effort.

In 2015 WIFDN is seeking to train additional volunteers. Note that past participants can attend the 2015 training as a review at no charge. So, what do you need to do to become a WIFDN volunteer?

  1. Have a passion for protecting Wisconsin from invasive species
  2. Attend training videos/webinars (requires a $30 registration fee; see below)
  3. Volunteer 24 hours of service toward invasive species monitoring and/or education

Participants will receive detailed training on invasive species biology, impacts, and identification as well as the opportunity to participate in projects specifically designed for WIFDN volunteers.

It all begins March 13, 2015 with the first of five biweekly webinars.


Registration is $30.00 and open until March 26, 2015.

Click here to register for the 2015 WIFDN training.

If you cannot afford the registration fee, contact us to learn about our limited scholarships.

Organizations with volunteers who are unable to participate in the scheduled training can contact us to arrange limited in-person trainings to selected groups.

For more information contact: Tony Summers, WIFDN Coordinator

Phone: (608) 262-9570; Email:

Protecting our Great Lakes from Asian Carp

Continued monitoring of the Chicago Area Waterway System

Environmental DNA, or eDNA, surveillance is becoming a useful tool for detecting rare species in aquatic environments. Many fish species, like bighead and silver carp, may easily avoid detection through traditional sampling methods yet leave traces of eDNA that is detectable using techniques commonly used in microbiology. While it would be nice if the presence of the target eDNA indicated positive presence of the live target organism, it isn’t that simple because the eDNA could have come from other sources such as the side of a boat or a net that was used to fish for Asian carp. It can also come from the sewer systems or from bird feces. Given this information, a single positive hit doesn’t necessarily indicate the presence of fish. eDNA surveillance uses multiple repeated detections over time to suggest the presence of live fish. Repeated positives in the same location over time can be considered strong evidence for the presence of live fish.

spring news 6The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been using eDNA surveillance methods to monitor the Great Lakes for evidence of silver and bighead carp for the past few years, regularly monitoring the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) in addition to other sites around the Great Lakes Basin. The most recently published results indicated that 23 samples tested positive for silver carp eDNA. These results raised some eyebrows, but this isn’t the first time samples have tested positive above the barrier. For example there were 18 positives in June of 2013, 7 in June of 2014, and 3 in November 2013. Yet according to the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, only one carp has been captured above the barrier, even with intensive sampling efforts.

The number of positive samples in the CAWS combined with the lack of bighead and silver carp captured using traditional sampling methods can make things difficult for resource managers. On one hand, the most parsimonious explanation for positive samples is the presence of live fish and repeated detection of silver carp eDNA can also indicate this. On the other hand, the proximity of the CAWS to established populations of silver and bighead carp below the barrier make the alternative eDNA sources more likely (e.g. birds, boats, and nets). At the very least, eDNA sampling is a useful tool to narrow down the great number of places we could be looking for rare organisms (invasive or endangered). Continuing to work with eDNA surveillance and tools will help us to learn more and eventually reduce the ambiguity in results like these. The USFWS has concluded the recent eDNA test results are “probably not” from a live fish. However, the proximity of the eDNA sample (about a city block from the lake) is another reminder of the need for more short- and long-term carp controls to protect our Great Lakes.