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Weeding Out Our Wetlands: Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Battles Invasives in Door County Wisconsin
Midwest Region, September 29, 2011
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Kellner Fen is a unique wetland habitat in Door County which supports a variety of rare plant species.  Unfortunately, nonnative cattails have invaded this sensitive landscape, crowding out native plant species, and potentially impacting the habitat of the federally listed Hine’s emerald dragonfly.
Kellner Fen is a unique wetland habitat in Door County which supports a variety of rare plant species. Unfortunately, nonnative cattails have invaded this sensitive landscape, crowding out native plant species, and potentially impacting the habitat of the federally listed Hine’s emerald dragonfly. - Photo Credit: Photo by John Riens/USFWS.

A limestone peninsula that extends out into Lake Michigan, the Door County Peninsula is well-known in Wisconsin and beyond for its unique natural resources. Its rocky cliffs, sandy shorelines, coastal wetlands and conifer forests provide habitat for many rare and endangered plant and animal species.

These species include the Dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris) and Pitcher’s thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) which are federally-listed as threatened and the Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana), which is listed as endangered. Unfortunately, these once pristine wetlands, woodlands and shorelines that support these rare species are being invaded by a number of exotic plant species. These invasive plant species degrade the natural areas by out-competing the native plant communities, making the habitat unsuitable for the rare species they support.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), working in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), The Nature Conservancy, Ridges Sanctuary, Door County Land Trust and the Door County Soil and Water Department, have identified several habitat areas that support these listed species that are in need of exotic invasive species control measures. The identified areas are properties that have been acquired by the cooperating agencies due to their special habitat value. The sites are also within areas designated as a Wisconsin State Natural Areas by the WDNR. Some sites are with Service designated critical habitat for the Hine’s emerald dragonfly.

In the fall of 2010, with Great Lake Restoration Initiative funding, delivered through the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, efforts to control common reed grass (Phragmites) began at a 30-acre coastal wetland site known to support the Hine’s emerald dragonfly and Dwarf lake iris. Efforts continued in 2011 with the addition of seven new invasive species control projects enhancing 15-acres of shoreline, 30-acres of woodland and 122-acres of wetland.

These acres underwent invasive species control measures for the protection of the habitat crucial to the success of the Hine’s emerald dragonfly, Dwarf lake iris and Pitcher’s thistle. Exotic invasive species controlled in these projects include: glossy buckthorn (Rhammus cathartica), bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergia), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), common reed grass (Phragmites australis), hybrid cattail (Typha xglauca) and European marsh thistle (Cirsium palustre).

The Service will continue to coordinate with partners to identify areas that support federally-listed species and have exotic invasive species encroachment problems. These efforts are helping to restore habitat important to the recovery and conservation of not only the three federally-listed species noted above, but also other rare species of concern in Door County, Wisconsin.


Contact Info: John Riens, 541-885-2503, John_Riens@fws.gov



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