Ozaukee Treasures Network

Legacies Left and Begun

Legacies Left

Noel Cutright

Ozaukee County and the entire state of Wisconsin birding community were saddened at Noel Cutright's departure from our midst.

Perhaps the best of so many tributes to Noel is this one that begins " He knew why migratory warblers traveling north from the Caribbean and South America found Wisconsin such a perfect place to land.  They travel by night, Noel Cutright said. "When it gets light they say, 'Uh-oh, I'm over water. I need to find land.' That's why the western shore of Lake Michigan is so important for migrant birds,..."  by Jan Uerbelherr that ran in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. We would print it here but for copyright concerns, so please check out this link it is a beautiful tribute.

Noel's service was held at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, home of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, the most recent addition to his long history of accomplishments.  Hundreds of people came to share stories about Noel and the wonderful legacy that he left.

Noel will be both greatly missed and always remembered by all of us in Ozaukee, as a mentor, an innovator, a visionary and a crack ornithologist. Noel's presence stood solidly behind so many of our organizations. Even he understood the magic of his endorsement; he worked to be sure that the Riveredge Bird Club, which he founded, made the initial donation to a start-up to ensure it would succeed. He never missed.

Bruce Krier

Our most recent OTN gathering focused on two projects, one of which was the Krier Wetland Restoration in Belgium. Clay Frazer and Steve Hjort not only talked about the restoration itself, but how they worked through all kinds of weather as time was of the essence. Bruce was fighting cancer and this wetland restoration, the largest private wetland restoration in Wisconsin, was his dream. He wanted to see it to completion.  Besides the wetland restoration, his legacy includes the Bruce Krier Foundation, which provides grants and scholarships to education and community projects.

Bruce passed away on December 5, 2013.  

and Legacies Begun

Town of Grafton Legacy Trail

The Town of Grafton recently gave a name to its trail in progress - the Grafton Legacy Trail, so named because it will take years to complete and because it is a gift to future residents to enjoy the open spaces that have drawn current residents to live the town, something they almost take for granted. The trail is currently about a mile in length, with another mile or so under easement and waiting for construction. The entire trail is mapped and will run a little over 15 miles from the north end to the south end of the Town when.  It is a multi-use trail and includes horseback riding to meet the Town's long-standing and growing equestrian presence.

The Ulao and Mole Creeks Re-meanders

The Milwaukee River Watershed Fish Passage Program is, among other things, funding work on both Ulao Creek and Mole Creek.

Parts of Ulao Creek were trenched for farming convenience and a section was buried for interstate construction. The area just north of Hwy. 60/Ulao Road and extending north of Arrowhead Road is being rerouted into a lovely meander, similar to what it was in pre-settlement times. Along with the meander, wetland scrapes will extend the spawning areas for the fish that are returning as a result of the Fish Passage Program's work in Ozaukee County.

This work is being done on private lands with owner contracts. Ulao Creek land owners are very excited about the project. Most are members of the Ulao Creek Partnership, which has worked for years to improve the health of this beautiful little creek and watershed. UCP is very much involved in partnering with this effort. Andrew Struck and Matt Aho are our OTN connections on this project, along with August Hoppe and Paul Helms from Ulao Creek Partnership.

Mole Creek is experiencing a similar reconstruction just south of Hillcrest Road in the Town of Saukville. The goal of this project is to create habitat that will support cold to cool-water fish and other aquatic life, including trout and to provide riparian habitat for wildlife. Willl Wawrzyn and Andy Holschbach are our OTN connections for Mole Creek.

March Meet-Up to focus on small organic farms

Topic: How and why land trusts and county planners need to actively engage in making land available to small organic farm producers. Focus is on the economic benefits to communities and the environmental benefits to natural area preservation.

This program will be held the week of March 17th.  More detailed information will be coming as to date, location and time.

Dr. Brad Leibov, President and CEO of Liberty Prairie Foundation (Grayslake , IL) will be our presenter.

This program was suggested by Steve Sandlin, who has heard Dr, Leibov on this topic. Steve's comments:

"Fantastic and engaging. LPF has been very successful in developing lease agreements and protocol for establishing small sustainable farm enterprises on property held by land trusts and on public land."

OTN Steering is very excited about his coming talk as well.  Here are two of the many positive comments from Steering.

"I think this would be a fabulous program. It would be beneficial to any organization or individual who is interested in preserving land. At times, it can be a struggle to come up with the "right" things to say about why it is important to preserve land – particularly when you "just know" it's the right thing. Hearing the case for support would be wonderful."

Jessica Jens

Executive Director


Riveredge Nature Center

"This would be a very worthwhile event that fits the focus of the OTN very well. Sustainable agriculture is an important link in our effort to preserve our open space, etc.....

I actually had a person from Fox Point contact our office last week seeking land in the Ulao Creek watershed on which to grow organic produce on easement land...

Would be beneficial to learn more."

Andy Holschbach


"Well done, Noel" and Kudos from OTN

State DNR Recognizes Longtime Bird Advocate:  Cutright Is Honored On 'Larry Meiller Show'

By:  Judith Siers-Poisson October 01, 2013

Editor's Note: Listeners to "The Larry Meiller Show" have likely heard Bill Volkert and Noel Cutright share their love and knowledge of birds on the program many times. Volkert is a naturalist and a retired Wildlife Educator at Horicon Marsh International Education Center, and Cutright is past president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. Many longtime listeners often share that it just isn't a holiday if Noel and Bill aren't on the Ideas Network to talk about migrations, sightings, feeding tips, and the many fascinating and unexpected ways that birds behave.

Those who tuned into Tuesday's program might have found themselves checking the calendar since guests Bill Volkert and Noel Cutright joined host Larry Meiller for a non-holiday program to talk about fall bird migration. But, it was particularly special appearance because while they are usually on by phone, this time they came to Madison to do the show in the studio.

One of their goals is always to help people get started in birding or to improve their skills. An important aspect is to know where to go and when to observe birds at a given time of year. The fall migration is currently well-underway, and Volkert had some great recommendations for where to see specific species. Wherever you are in the state, there are great opportunities, he said.

Some of the locations that he suggested are:

The Mississippi River for ducks, swans, hawks and eagles. Sandhill WA and Central Wisconsin for sandhill cranes, Lake Superior for gulls, jaegers, waterfowl and hawks, Horicon Marsh for ducks, Canada geese, cranes, Lake Michigan for ducks, gulls and uncommon waterbirds

But the highlight of the program was when staffers from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources surprised Cutright with an award for his many years of service to the state's birds.

A native of southern Ohio, Cutright has lived for 35 years in rural Ozaukee County near the Cedarburg Bog with wife Kate, who is also a naturalist. His Bachelor's and Master's degrees focused more on plants, but his Ph.D. in wildlife science from Cornell University included studying flocking and roosting behavior of red-winged blackbirds, and he has been specializing in birds and bird behavior ever since.

Cutright's accomplishments are numerous, but Sumner Matteson, avian biologist with the DNR, compiled this list:

Senior Terrestrial Ecologist, We Energies, for nearly 30 years until his retirement in 2006.

Founder of the Riveredge Bird Club in 1986

Past president (twice) of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology

(WSO)Historian, WSO

One of the leaders in establishing the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative

Helped promote the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas and served on the Atlas Steering Committee

Senior editor, Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Wisconsin, published in 2006

Currently serving on Steering Committee for a second Wisconsin Breeding Birds Atlas

Helped launch the Milwaukee County Avian Migration Monitoring Partnership, which won a 2007 WDNR Citizen-based Monitoring Award

Received the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award for Citizen-based Monitoring from WDNR for 30+ years of applying monitoring results to conservation actions.

Whether it's supporting efforts to install Osprey platforms, reintroduce Trumpeter Swans, erect Peregrine Falcon nest boxes, create bluebird trails, establish State Natural Areas or important reserves in Belize, Noel has been active in a number of important conservation campaigns.

Tirelessly promoted and participated in the Federal Breeding Bird Survey for 40+ years.

This culminated in a Quad 30 campaign in 2004 in which he raised >$50,000 for the state's Important Bird Areas program by running 33 consecutive Breeding Bird Survey routes in 33 days!

Organized and participated in hundreds of Christmas Bird Counts over the decades and served as the Wisconsin coordinator for the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Received prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gathering Waters Conservancy in 2010.

Received the Silver Passenger Pigeon, Green Passenger Pigeon, and Sam Robbins' Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology,

and the 1st Annual Lorrie Otto Memorial Award from Milwaukee Audubon in 2011.

Long-time advisor to WDNR and FWS on the ecology and management of Wisconsin's breeding birds.

Instrumental in creation of Bird City Wisconsin and serves on its Steering Committee Instrumental in promoting migratory bird conservation

and founded the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, with headquarters at the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Ozaukee County

In presenting a plaque to Cutright, DNR Lands Division Administrator Kurt Thiede said, "You've done and given so much in the world of bird conservation here." He added, "In recognition of your outstanding service, leadership and passion for conserving Wisconsin's bird populations and their habitats ... we wanted to present you with this plaque of our appreciation."

When Thiede presented Cutright with the plaque, adorned with a photo of his favorite bird, a Kentucky Warbler, Cutright said, "I've got a lump in my throat and goosebumps on my legs. This really does mean a lot."

Volkert added to the accolades as well. "The people of Wisconsin are certainly so much better informed about birds because of the work that Noel has done. And I have to say that I believe that the birds of Wisconsin are better off because of his contributions to both education of our wildlife resources and certainly the conservation of birds and their habitats in the state. He's really made a mark on this state, and for that, all the bird watchers, the bird lovers and the birds themselves are thankful for all Noel has done for us."

Listener Ryan Brady said on Facebook that "Noel and Bill are truly incomparable. And special congrats to Noel for his well-deserved recognition from WDNR." Listener Connie Hartman agreed. She said on Facebook, "Always enjoy Noel and Bill - happy to hear of Noel's recognition. Congrats!"

And after the show, listener James Taylor emailed to say "Wisconsin is applauding right now. Well done, Noel." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.