Ozaukee Treasures Network

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Notes from the 2014 September OTN Conference

Who was in attendance:

We had a full house with membership from:

Ozaukee County Planning and Parks, Land and Water Management, UW Extension, and County Board.

Wellspring, Riveredge, OWLT, Pheasants Forever, Wisconsin Wetlands, DNR, Ulao Creek Partnership, Village of Thiensville, Town of Grafton, Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat, Wisconsin Humane-Ozaukee, Cedarburg Bog, Treasures of Oz, Land Conservation Partnership of Ozaukee County, Renew Port, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, The Conservation Fund, Eco-Resources, Stantec, Sweet Water Trust, Tall Pines Conservancy, and SANC.

Talks and topics were interesting and enlightening...so apologies for the brevity of the notes. We would have needed one good court reporter to keep up with the flow and details of the presentations. This is a very good reason to attend these events, rather than rely on the notes..LOL. Some more details will be coming, so watch this space.

"New Opportunities for Land Preservation in Ozaukee County"

1.  Dave Grusznski from The Conservation Fund briefed us on the changes to the Greenseems Project from MMSD, the most significant being the 2013 expansion into Ozaukee and Washington counties. Farmland preservation is now a key focus to improve water quality.

Partnerships are a key component of the GreenSeems program and a new program, the RCCP, Regional Conservation Partnership Program, is seen as the central coordinating program for the immediate future.

2.  Shawn Graff, executive director of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust began by telling us that we are at a windows of opportunity that we have not had before for preserving land. The stars and planets have lined up and OWLT is envisioning being able to preserve an additional 1500 to 2500 acres through partnership with GreenSeems and others.

The RCPP comes out of the recent Farm Bill and makes 1 to 1.2 billion dollars available nationally over the next 5 years. RCPP has target areas and one is our own Great Lakes Basin. It requires partnership proposals for large grants. OWLT, The Conservation Fund, Ozaukee County, Sweetwater, the Sand County Foundation and others have already begun the process as partners.

ACEP, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, the new version of the Farm and Ranchland Program, is available to provide matching funds for GreenSeems on agricultural easements. A key component here is requirements for putting sustainable farming methods in place. An additional benefit is that ACEP allows land owners to donate up to 50% of an easement, whereas Farm and Ranchland capped it as 25%.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program can reimburse for buffers and other sustainable systems.

Wisconsin DNR is creating "maximum daily load" limits on the amount of phosphorus put back into the water system. Municipalities are expecting to receive this information in June or 2015. Their options will be to reduce phosphorus output either through "end of the pipe" solutions (the Milwaukee Deep Tunnel Project is an example of that) or to reduce phosphorus in the larger portion of the region through mitigation. Creating and protecting sponge and filter areas reduces phosphorus being released into the water system and is a more cost-effective method than "end of pipe" solutions. The need for mitigation areas will open to door to land protection in the watershed.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative continues to be strong and healthy. The president had cut funding by 1/3 in his budget but Congress actually brought it back to the original figure of 300 million dollars. This was the only budget item that was fully restored by this Congress.

3. Update on the Krier Restoration. This is now the Krier Conservancy! Bruce Krier's family has followed Bruce Krier's wishes and has gotten behind the completion of his legacy. Eco-Resources is heading the project to create a 400 acre plus Conservancy that will be open to education and research.

Initially the wetland area had only 5 plant species, Reed Canary Grass being one and covering about 95% of the area. Today the Reed canary grass is gone and there are 50 to 60 native plant species in the wetlands. On September 13th, another 2500 hundred plants were installed by volunteers.

Sucker Brook, which runs through the wetland portion of the restoration, had clear water in July (this is new and good news indeed) and submergent vegetation is visible. USFish&Wildlife and Pheasants Forever have been very involved in this project, which is likely to be in process for 5 to 10 years. 26 acres of buffer will be seeded soon, native prairie will be seeded and cover the majority of the land. Some selective work will be done on the woodland as well. The future holds an educational center as well as trails and bridges.

RELATED EVENT: Wisconsin Wetlands Association is holding a "Getting to Know Your Wetlands" event at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve on Saturday, October 11th from 1:00 until 4:00 pm. Part of the event includes a tour of the Krier Conservancy Restoration. Details and registration can be found here. http://owlt.org/news/195-my-healthy-wetlands

4. Update on the Ulao Creek Restoration. The Gateway property section (directly east of the gas station and hotel/restaurant complex) off Hwy 60 and I-43 is completed. The Creek meanders beautifully and many large native trees have been installed and protected. The area east of Arrowhead Road is in construction right now. A similar project is being carried out as part of the MRW Fish Passage Program on Mole Creek.

These projects areas were chosen using Habitat Quality Index mapping to get the most value possible. Ulao Creek has historically been a spawning area for Northern Pike and Mole Creek is the only cold water stream in Ozaukee.

Andrew's presentation was far more detailed than these notes can ever hope to convey. You can scroll back on this site to our article on "Big Changes for a little Creek" for some general information. This is a must-see restoration and we will keep you informed of opportunities to do so.

5. Pheasants Forever: Marc Daniloff gave us an good overview of the work of the Ozaukee Chapter of the national organization. Their core values are habitat restoration and Youth education. The local chapter is autonomous in funding and decision making, as are other chapters. They report in to national but are very free to seek and fund local projects as they see fit.

One of their more recent projects was starting a Ozaukee County Trap Shooting program. It not only engaged and entertained local kids, but went on to win the national competition. Nice!

The Krier Conservancy is one of their funding projects here Ozaukee.

At a national level, Pheasants Forever has restored over ten million acres since 1982.

6.  Conference close: Dale Buser closed the conference with a reflection on the Color Wheel - looking at how the various components of Ozaukee come together to interact and how healthy environment and healthy lifestyles affect every one and every thing. Key to the success of all that we do is sharing what we do, getting the word out and getting others aware and hopefully excited and connecting.

Reframing things makes a difference. Referencing the work on Mole Creek, where a ditched stream is restored to meander, he asked if realtors would prefer to sell a property with a ditch running through it or a property with a beautiful stream. Makes all the difference.

7. Coming topics for conferences: One will be the GIS mapping system that is being developed to prioritize lands using everything from topography to flora and fauna.

Remember that all of us can suggest topics, call conferences and suggest things to pull together.