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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Wisconsin Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Restores Wetland Gem

Region 3, April 17, 2013
Signs placed along recreational trails to inform public about the project.
Signs placed along recreational trails to inform public about the project. - Photo Credit: n/a
Pieces of removed drainage tile system in foreground as contractor Mark Rochon continues to disable the drainage system in the background. The concrete tiles indicate that this system was installed after World War II.
Pieces of removed drainage tile system in foreground as contractor Mark Rochon continues to disable the drainage system in the background. The concrete tiles indicate that this system was installed after World War II. - Photo Credit: n/a
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Biologist Mike Engel
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Biologist Mike Engel - Photo Credit: n/a
State threatened Blanding's turtle held by Partners for Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Mike Engel
State threatened Blanding's turtle held by Partners for Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Mike Engel - Photo Credit: n/a

Local conservation partners just finished a much needed wetland restoration in Middelton, Wis. The City of Middelton, Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program joined forces to clear invasive brush and trees, disable drainage tile, and seed part of the 550 acres Pheasant Branch Conservancy.

The restored site is home to several springs that are an important water source to the Conservancy. These springs feed Lake Mendaota which through the Yahara and Rock River lead to the Mississippi River. The Wisconsin Wetlands Association has named Pheasant Branch Conservancy as one of Wisconsin's Wetland Gems and a Workhorse Wetland.

The site is home to the state threatened Blanding's Turtle. The City of Middelton has been studying the movement and habitat preferences of the turtles with radio telemetry.

The site is a very popular recreation spot for the residents of Dane County with miles of recreational trail.

During construction an osprey brought bluegill from the nearby water to a tree overhead to feed. We observed American toad and snapping turtle. Spring peepers and chorus frogs were calling from nearby. Sandhill cranes and wood ducks foraged adjacent to us. Post construction Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist Mike Engel joined Thompson and Associates (contractor hired by the City of Middleton) to track nearby Blanding's turtles. They found two turtles one with a transmitter the other without. The turtles were weighed and measured. In the past, both these turtles had blood drawn for a genetics study. Each year eggs are collected. These are hatched and head started in captivity. This practice allows turtles to grow the equivalent of 3 years in one year of captivity. This year one of the release sites will be our wetland restoration!

Learn more about the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program! Visit us online: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/partners/.

Contact Info: Michael Engel, 608-221-1206x21, mike_engel@fws.gov