Concurrent Session: Effective wetland conservation partnerships
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Thu
TITLE: Restoring a section of Sugar River Wetlands through volunteer workdays
ABSTRACT: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Upper Sugar Watershed Association formed a partnership in 2016 with the goal of restoring a degraded section of Sugar River Wetlands State Natural Area through volunteer workdays. The area had been thinned of large oak trees many years ago and still had a few oaks along with 30-40 year old black cherry, aspen, and thick brush with minimal understory plants. Our goal was to remove invasive plants and establish native wet prairie species. Over the course of the next six years, volunteers made solid gains through monthly workdays by removing brush and trees (black cherry, buckthorn, honeysuckle, aspen), and invasive plants, and by establishing natives through seed collecting and scattering. We have identified planted natives that successfully established early on, native and invasives that have required extra effort to keep in check, as well as the response of the seedbank. The area now has an understory with a majority of natives, though invasive plants are still present. I will discuss the difficulty of removing invasive plants and trees, seed bank response (native and invasive), planted native species response, and volunteer effectiveness.
BIO: Jared Urban works for Wisconsin DNR as the State Natural Areas Volunteer Coordinator. In this position he works with some of the most passionate people of the state, taking care of State Natural Areas by removing invasives, collecting seed, and conducting prescribed fires. He formed the SNA volunteer program in 2014 and has worked on restoring Wisconsin plant communities since 2008.