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Wisconsin Wetlands Association Provides Wetland Training to County Officials at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
Midwest Region, June 16, 2014
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Workshop participants and presenters pose for a group picture in a Necedah National Wildlife Refuge sedge meadow.
Workshop participants and presenters pose for a group picture in a Necedah National Wildlife Refuge sedge meadow. - Photo Credit: Erin O'Brien
Jim Riemer, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist, explains identifying characteristics of sedges.
Jim Riemer, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist, explains identifying characteristics of sedges. - Photo Credit: Mark Pfost/USFWS
From left to right: Eric Norton, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Jeff Eniger, NRCS; and Will Stites, Wisconsin DNR dig three closely spaced test pits along the bank of a forested wetland backwater. Even though the three pits were only a couple of feet apart, soils in each told a different story--the bottom showed anerobic conditions, the middle pit showed oxidation, and the top-most pit did not show any wetland indicators.
From left to right: Eric Norton, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Jeff Eniger, NRCS; and Will Stites, Wisconsin DNR dig three closely spaced test pits along the bank of a forested wetland backwater. Even though the three pits were only a couple of feet apart, soils in each told a different story--the bottom showed anerobic conditions, the middle pit showed oxidation, and the top-most pit did not show any wetland indicators. - Photo Credit: Mark Pfost/USFWS
Workshop particpants listen (some take notes) as the WWA's Kyle Magyera talks about wetland functions.
Workshop particpants listen (some take notes) as the WWA's Kyle Magyera talks about wetland functions. - Photo Credit: Mark Pfost/USFWS
Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist, Mark Pfost, describes some of the challenges and front-end planning involved in planning a project that will move water out of a hundred year old ditch and back into its old meanders.
Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist, Mark Pfost, describes some of the challenges and front-end planning involved in planning a project that will move water out of a hundred year old ditch and back into its old meanders. - Photo Credit: Trevor Lauber
WWA's wetland workshop was designed to help county conservationists, planners, and those working with zoning issues better understand what wetlands are, their values to society, and regulations that apply when planning projects that may impact wetlands.
WWA's wetland workshop was designed to help county conservationists, planners, and those working with zoning issues better understand what wetlands are, their values to society, and regulations that apply when planning projects that may impact wetlands. - Photo Credit: Erin O'Brien, WWA

The Wisconsin Wetlands Association hosted a wetland workshop at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on June 5 2014. Most of the 25 attendees either work in county planning or county zoning. The purpose of the workshop was to improve a county’s ability to protect its wetlands and aimed at addressing other wetland related issues.

Morning classroom presentations, led by Wisconsin Wetlands Association Wetland Policy Specialist Kyle Magyera, discussed what wetlands are, the functions and services that they provide, and why wetlands are important from economic, wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreational perspectives. Participants learned some of the many available resources to help them do their jobs - such as Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wetland Indicator Maps, aerial photographs, and soil maps. 

Will Stites, with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Eric Norton, with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, explained the regulatory roles that their respective agencies play in determining what can, and cannot be done in wetlands, and how the permitting process works.

Participants loaded on to a bus after the classroom work was done and headed to several wetland sites on Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and a nearby private property. Wetlands can be of many types, including: open marsh, bog, sedge meadow, wet prairie, and forested wetland. Sometimes a wetland is easy to identify - it’s full of water. But, for some wetland types, it is not always so easy to identify, especially since they may be dry during the heat of summer, or during a drought.

As participants walked through several wetlands with different characteristics, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Biologist Rim Reimer and Patrick Goggin from the University of Wisconsin - Extension, showed examples of wetland vegetation. They explained the difference between sedges, grasses, and rushes, and that species of each group may live either in wetlands, uplands, or possibly in both. 

Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Scientist Jeff Deniger dug small test pits at each site to show attendees that soils inundated with water, or with periods of saturation have characteristics different than non-wetland soils at a slightly higher elevation.
The class ended the day with a visit to a potential stream / wetland restoration project. A drainage ditch dug in the early 20th Century isolates almost two miles of meandering stream.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Biologist Mark Pfost, explained the history of the site, the landowners’ desire to redirect water from the ditch to the old meander, and the challenges involved. This led to a discussion about the need to involve as many “players” as possible early in the process. Such a project involves zoning and planning, engineers, regulatory agencies, local jurisdictions, biologists, and possibly landowners up-and- downstream from the project.

So how might this training help those charged with land-use planning and zoning in their respective counties? Take the landowner who wishes to build a new house, enlarge a parking lot, or to expand a business operation; by meeting early on in the process with those involved with regulating land use, a landowner may save themselves money and headaches. If the proposed project would fall within a wetland, early conversations may help the landowner find a way to modify plans so that they can proceed without damaging the wetland. Finding solutions to such problems early on is better than charging forward, only to find out once it’s too late, that one’s actions may result in fines, restoration costs, or project delays. Additionally, protected wetlands will continue to provide those functions and services that benefit citizens of the watershed or county.

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge was pleased to offer its facilities and wetlands to help the Wisconsin Wetlands Association provide this valuable training.


Contact Info: Mark Pfost, (608) 565-4418, mark_pfost@fws.gov



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