Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Meet the St. Croix WMD and Whittlesey Creek NWR

We are a refuge complex that includes both St. Croix Wetland Management District, in New Richmond, Wisconsin and Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Ashland, Wisconsin.

St. Croix Wetland Management District

Staff of the St. Croix Wetland Management District enact wildlife conservation in an eight-county area of northwest Wisconsin. The District’s team is comprised of eight permanent and four temporary staff, manage wetland, grassland and oak savannah habitats on 43 Waterfowl Production Areas through prescribed fire, grazing, haying, timber harvest and brush control.  Located within one hour of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, metropolitan area, the Waterfowl Production Areas provide outdoor recreation and education opportunities for an estimated 31,000 visitors each year. Working with many state, private and local partners staff also complete wetland and upland habitat restoration projects on private land. Special District projects include a pollinator resolution within the St. Croix River watershed where numerous public and private entities pledged to take specific action to benefit pollinators and a research project to develop a self-sustaining, robust population of the endangered Karner blue butterflies within St. Croix County.

Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge

On the shores of Lake Superior, this Refuge encompasses 329 acres of quality, cold-water stream habitat for the coaster crook trout and other native fish. The Refuge was established in 1998 in an effort to restore populations of this native, migratory fish that spawns in Whittlesey Creek and spends its adult life in Lake Superior. Another important role of the refuge is to provide environmental education in the local community through a partnership with other agencies in the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center.

 

Bridget Olson

Bridget Olson

Bridget Olson has been the Project Leader here for about eight months after spending 2 ½ years as the Deputy Refuge Manager at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District. Her love of the outdoors and all things wild was sparked by spending endless summer days walking the pasture, riding horses and looking for bugs in the creek on the family farm in rural Omaha, Nebraska. Olson met her husband Peter, had her two sons Nathan and Jacob, and started her career with the Service all in Ashland, Wisconsin. After 27 years, five job series, four states and seven stations, she has once again landed in Wisconsin! Olson has a B.S. in Biology from Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin and M.S. in Biology from Utah State University, Logan, Utah. She enjoys playing board games with family, birdwatching and cycling.

 


 

 

 

Tom Marcouiller

Tom Marcouiller

Tom Marcouiller is the wage grade for the District. He works diligently to keep as much of the infrastructure, vehicles and equipment as he can up and running. He enjoys the fact that every day is different. Marcouiller also really enjoys being a Heavy Equipment and Off-Road Utility Vehicle Safety Trainer, as well as serving on Maintenance Action Team details. Marcouiller grew up in Northeast Minneapolis and has always had a strong interest in heavy equipment, trucks, and farm work. He has a B.S. in Agriculture with a minor in Agriculture Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. He served 2 ½ years with his wife in the Peace Corps working in Africa and Central America. He has been with the Service since 1999 at Minnesota Valley and Sherburne refuges, and now St. Croix.

 


 

 

 

Lisa Custer

Lisa Custer

Lisa Custer has worked for the St. Croix Wetland Management District for the past 6 ½ years as an administrative assistant. She worked for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency for 28 years prior to coming to the Service. Custer grew up on a dairy farm in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. She and her husband Jay have three adult children; Jared 26, Mallory 24 and McKayla 20. In her spare time, she loves to be with family, travel, camp and fish.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Tracy Ronnander

Tracy Ronnander

Tracy Ronnander is a Range Technician with the St. Croix Wetland Management District. She works with the fire management and habitat restoration activities on Waterfowl Production Areas throughout the district. Ronnander attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls receiving a B.S. degree in Conservation-Natural Resource Management. When not working at the district, Ronnander spends her time skiing, snowmobiling, motorcycling and gardening.

 

 

 


 

 

 

David (Mac) McConnell

David McConnell

David (Mac) McConnell is the Wildlife Refuge Specialist for the District. He joined the Service in 1993 as a Biological Technician at St. Croix Wetland Management District and has remained at the District for his entire career. If asked what his title is, he replies “District Curmudgeon”.   Always open to new ideas and suggestions, McConnell’s usual response is “But we’ve always done it that way!”. He received a B.S. with majors in wildlife management, resource management and biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. His hobbies include doing Civil War and Revolutionary War re-enacting, horseback riding and bird watching.

 

 


 

 

 

Mike Mlynarek

Mike Mlynarek

Mike Mlynarek has been a Fish and Wildlife Biologist at the Whittlesey Creek Refuge since 2003, based out of the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. His work focuses on in-stream habitat restoration and enhancement on cold-water tributaries to Lake Superior, part of a larger effort to restore populations of “lake-run” brook trout. Multi-agency projects are implemented on the refuge, throughout the Whittlesey Creek watershed and on Farm Service Agency easements. Additionally, Mlynarek completes wetland restorations and conifer plantings to complement the in-stream work.  Funding is obtained from diverse sources and includes allocations from the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Being located at a refuge that was established in 1999, Mlynarek has been involved with land and easement acquisitions, developing a biological program and writing numerous planning documents. He has hosted Youth Conservation Corps crews for 14 consecutive years. Prior to working for the Service, he spent 17 years as an agricultural researcher affiliated with University of Wisconsin – Madison, stationed in Ashland, Wisconsin. Having lived in the Ashland area since 1985, Mlynarek is well-connected with the community and easily coordinates cooperative resource management projects. Mlynarek holds a B.S. in Soil Science from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and an M.S. in Soil Science from University of Wisconsin – Madison. Mlynarek enjoys spending time with his wife, dog and cats at their home on Lake Superior, backcountry skiing, canoeing, boating, fishing and traveling. Snorkeling with sea turtles and visiting diverse marine environments are favorites!

 

Alex Troutman

Alex _Troutman.jpg

Alex Troutman has been serving as a Biological Science Aide with the St. Croix Wetland Management District since October of 2016. His duties include, but are not limited to: collecting Karner blue butterfly eggs, harvesting wild lupine seeds, fencing to support the stations grazing program and mowing restored grasslands. Troutman has had a passion for wildlife since birth. As a child in Georgia he would raid the creek bed for “crawdads” and salamanders. Before joining the Service, he was an Animal Handler and Instructor at Zoo Atlanta. He holds a B.S degree in Biology from Georgia Southern University (Hail Southern!). When not working, Troutman enjoys watching sports (Go Braves/Falcons Rise Up!), cooking, fishing, exploring new places, camping, helping others and spending time with his family and dog.

 

 

 

 

Joel Kemm

Joel Kemm

Joel Kemm, Fire Management Specialist, has been working in Wetland Management District operations including habitat restoration, biomass utilization, fire/fuels management, since 2003.   Kemm has a B.S. in Forestry from Purdue University and began his career in 1981 with the U.S. Forest Service in the mountains of the Colorado western slope, where he worked for nearly 20 years in fire management. In 1999, he left Colorado and worked fire management positions in the Northern Rockies for a few years before returning to Colorado and ultimately Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen Anderson

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Colleen Anderson has been serving as a Biological Sciences Technician at St. Croix Wetland Management District since April 2017. Prior to joining the district full time, she worked as a summer intern mapping invasive wetland plant species and as a firefighter assisting with prescribed burns on Waterfowl Production Areas. In her current role, she administers a National Fish and Wildlife Federation grant focusing on monarch butterfly conservation activities. She also finds opportunities to continue gaining knowledge and experience in fire, equipment operation, habitat restoration and whatever else is available and needed at the District. Her background in GIS enables her to work towards the goal of re-organizing the District's spatial data and updating maps.

 

 

 

 

 

Caitlin Smith

Caitlin Smith

Caitlin Smith has been a Private Lands Biologist at St. Croix Wetland Management District since 2011 where she gets the opportunity to work with a wide range of landowners and partners implementing habitat improvement projects on private and public lands. She began her love for the outdoors and wildlife growing up on a hobby farm in rural South Dakota where she helped raise everything from vegetables to llamas. Smith was fortunate to begin her Service journey in 2007 by volunteering as a Biological Science Technician building fences and parking lots at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District while in college. Since then, she has worked at the Midwest Regional Office, Indiana Private Lands Office, completed her graduate research at Devils Lake Wetland Management District and now resides in Wisconsin where she thoroughly enjoys spending time in the field restoring wetlands and grasslands. Smith has a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a M.S. in Natural Resources Management from North Dakota State University. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, camping, gardening and hunting.

 

 

 

Louis Neal

Louis Neal

Louis Neal is a Biological Science Aid for the St. Croix Wetland Management District who works on various projects which include, but are not limited to, Karner blue butterfly egg collection, oak savanna restoration, invasive species management, waterfowl surveys, native plant seed harvesting and planting, seasonal crew supervision and training, heavy equipment operation/maintenance and light equipment operation/maintenance. Neal also is actively engaged in the stations Fire Program. Prior to coming to the Service, Neal worked for a commercial construction company building a variety of post framed structures. Neal currently serves as a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard and has done so for over six years, spending time in the United States and Afghanistan. As a full time employee for the St. Croix Wetland Management District, Neal also finds time to be a Business Major at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls.

 

 

 

 

Chris Trosen

Chris Trosen

Chris Trosen is the Wildlife Biologist for the St. Croix Wetland Management District. His aspiration for a career with the Service began the summer of 1997 while working as a volunteer at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge located in north central North Dakota. While in North Dakota, Trosen earned a B.S. degree in Zoology and a M.S. in Animal and Range Science from North Dakota State University and spent time at Upper Souris and J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuges. He moved to Minnesota in 2003 to continue his career with the Service as a wildlife refuge specialist at Minnesota Valley Refuge and Wetland Management District. In 2010,  Trosen became a Wildlife Biologist and continues to pursue his passion; working with people to do good things for wildlife and their habitat.

 

 

 

 

 

Zach Austin

Zac Austin

Zach Austin is a Biological Science Technician with the St. Croix Wetland Management District and has been with the station since March of 2015. Prior to joining the District, he interned there while finishing his B.S. degree in Conservation at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Austin developed a love for the outdoors at an early age and has lived a life built around it ever since. He attributes that love and passion to his family for getting him involved in the outdoors early on. Austin’s duties at the District include fencing, seed harvest, winter seeding and spring planting, as well as assisting with prescribed burning in the spring and fall. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his two young boys and wife, as well as scouting for and hunting white-tailed deer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: September 14, 2017