Growing The Refuge

The Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge have a long tradition of supporting the many worthwhile activities of our wonderful staff. From providing funds for much-needed equipment to volunteers for after-school programs that served over 6,000 youngsters this year alone, we have always been there when needed.  We are always in need of volunteers to help us at the front desk, in the Karner Korner nature store and in the field. We’ve listed below some activities that need some help.    

Karner Blue Butterfly Monitoring

When:  July

Total hours: ~20 hours (including training)

Description:  We try to survey each unit once per week during the second emergence of Karner Blue Butterflies.  Surveys require using a smart-phone or tablet to collect data while walking along survey transects.  Each unit typically requires walking for several hours and a leisurely in fair weather.  Surveys can be done as a team or alone and whenever the volunteer schedule allows.  A 4-hour training will be provided on refuge (typically late June).  Typically volunteers “adopt a unit” and survey it once every 7 days throughout July.

Why this is important:  These data are used by the refuge the estimate the number of Karner Blue Butterflies on the refuge, and more importantly to guide management actions to improve Karner Blue Butterfly habitat. Incoming

Water Action Volunteer

When:  April – October

Total Hours:  24+ hours, as much as you’d like

Description:  The Water Action Volunteer program was developed by the UW-Extension office as a citizen science project where people can help monitor water quality in streams in their community.  The refuge has several official WAV sites designated along the Little Yellow River.  We try to monitor the sites at least twice a month but more is great.  Monitoring consists of visiting the stream site, wading in the water to collect water samples, measuring stream flow and water depth.  A day long (~6 hours) training will be provided on refuge (typically late April).  Monitoring is best done in pairs but the more the merrier.  Typically volunteers “adopt a WAV site” and visit it as frequently as their schedule will allow, or after rain events.  Data are entered into State and National water databases and are available for scientist and conservationists in the future.

Why this is important:  The refuge is interested in restoring the hydrology of the Little Yellow River by changing it from a ditch back into a meandering stream that provides important habitat for fish and wildlife species.  It’s important for us to have data to show how the restorations changes the system.  Unfortunately we do not have the basic information we need to understand the hydrology of the Little Yellow River now.  We need these data to restore wetlands and minimize downstream flooding.

Eastern Whip-poor-will Surveys

When:  April – June Nights

Total Hours:  To be determined

Description:  This is a new monitoring project we are starting in conjunction with the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.  The surveys will follow the WDNRs protocol for monitoring Whip-poor-wills and other nightjars but may be tailored to help us better understand how our management actions on the refuge influence where whip-poor-wills can be found.  The surveys occur at night during “full” or “near full” moon phases and consist of driving and stopping along a survey route.  The work will be best done in teams but can also be done solo.  Data will be collected and analyzed with UWSP students, with oversight from Refuge staff and UWSP professors.  Students will be asked to provide a written annual report and a presentation of findings for the refuge staff, volunteers and public.

Why this is important:  Eastern Whip-poor-wills were once very common throughout their range but their populations have declined rapidly in many areas.  Despite being very vocal, the species camouflage and secretive nature make them difficult to study.  Ecologists don’t know very much about the species habitat needs, survival or predators.  The central sands region is one of the last strong holds for the species and offers us a very good opportunity to learn about, and manage for the species.

Bumble Bee Inventory

When:  Anytime during the spring and summer

Total hours: flexible

Description: collects photos citizens have taken of bumble bees and verifies the species in the photo and stores the information in a centralized database for scientist throughout North America to use.  From the refuge’s perspective the project will provide us with a baseline inventory of the species are found here, how common they are and to some degree the types of vegetation they are found in.  In addition, if species like the Rusty Patched Bumble bee is located it will allow us to tailor management and monitor for this endangered species.  Volunteers would be able to take photos at their leisure throughout the refuge and input those photos into the database from home at their own convenience.

Why this is important:  Pollinators are of high conservation concern globally and unfortunately very little information is known about their populations and distributions.  These insects provide a fundamental service through pollination of many native plants and most crops as well.  The refuge may be home to the endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee but we have not had enough resources to look.

Lupine Seed Collection

When: June – July

Total hours:  Flexible

Description:  Wild Lupine Flowers in May and June then pollinated flowers become “pea pods” in mid-June.  Seed pods typically “pop” in the summer heat and throw their seeds a short distance where new plants start.  When pods are ripe but before they pop, we can collect them, dry them, catch the seeds and transport them to recently restored area where Lupine hasn’t been established yet.  Volunteers can collect pods (June), transport them to the drying racks in the greenhouse (mid-July), separate the seeds from the chaff (mid-July), store them in the biology lab refrigerator until they can be sowed into the units after the first snow.

Why this is important:  Wild lupine is the only thing Karner Blue Butterfly caterpillars will eat and is very important to the recovery of this endangered species.  Wild lupine is a perennial (it will come back every year) but it take a long time for it to colonize new areas without a bit of help.

Developing the Ellen Allen Amphitheater site. $15,000.00

When the new visitor center opened in 2011, the Ellen Allen classroom needed to be razed. Since then, we have envisioned an outdoor amphitheater at the site to give the many kids who visit the refuge another opportunity to learn about nature and the environment. The site will include benches and interactive areas to enhance the educational experience. The site is just east of the visitor center and already has a path installed.

To fund this effort, we’ve created a unique opportunity for you to help us succeed. If you’ve visited the refuge lately, I’m sure you have seen the beautiful tree painted on the wall leading to the patio. That “Giving Tree” was painted by Jay Jocham, a nationally recognized artist and proud Friends member to symbolize the gateway to the refuge and its many adventures.  We plan to give the tree life by placing “leaves” on it that you donated. There are three levels of leaves: Gold – $500; Silver – $250.00 and Copper – $100.00. Each leaf can be personalized with your name and the year of your donation. There is a convenient form below for you to use.

All donations to the Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge are tax deductible and your employer may be willing to match your contribution under their charitable plan.

I want to thank you in advance for your contribution and your continuing support of our efforts. These projects are all important and we know you will support them by volunteering and/or sending your check today. For now, send your check to Friends of NNWR, N11385 Headquarters Rd, Necedah WI 54646. Our new and improved website has the PayPal option available for you but time is critical so act now.

Yours truly,

Dick Roellig, Fund Raising Chair