Ozaukee Treasures Network

"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.

Krier Restoration Update

To all:

Thank you so much for all of your hard work this past Saturday at the "Krier Conservancy Work Day". We were able to build over 250 tussock mounds and plant 2000 native wetland sedges and wildflowers in about three hours! This was a great accomplishment!!!

Unfortunately I don't have e-mail addresses for each person who attended the event, but we wanted to make examples of a few key people...

Special Thanks To:

John Rassel for trucking in (and presumably trucking out) the drinks, coolers, and grill.

Tom Ellis for purchasing all of the food and being the grill master –despite the rain coming down while he was cooking!

Marc Daniloff for bringing the two young ladies who provided great inspiration with their work ethic and fearlessness in the mud!

The Southeast and Ozaukee County Chapters of Pheasants Forever for purchasing the food (and supplying 7 volunteers).

Brett Gorzalski for bringing the youngest volunteer (his son Brayson)

Bob Hubing for bringing his ATV and trailer - (and various other tools)

Andy Holschbach and Kevin Peiffer for coming out to help despite having injuries on the mend

Mequon Nature Preserve for lending us some youth size waders

Peter Ziegler for stopping in to help with some plants (and dropping off wood duck boxes) while on his way to a WWA event

Bruce Krier for his consistent dedication to the conservation of wild places and ecological restoration

I'm sure I'm forgetting some folks who deserve mention - to whom I apologize. But thank you again all for taking time out of your weekend to help us help the land heal!

To download the photos from the event, click the link below. You may have to install Dropbox, but it's free!


Clayton M. Frazer

Senior Ecologist

409 Concord Drive

Oregon, WI 53575



2013 Conservationists of the Year - Dale Buser & Andrew Struck

Congratulations go to two of our Wizards for Oz for being recognized with the Conservationist of the Year Award by Gathering Waters Conservancy. The award will be given in Madison on September 26th.

Their award is all about their efforts in creating the Milwaukee River Watershed Fish Passage Program. Here is the story behind the award thanks to the Ozaukee- Washington Land Trust and the Ulao Creek Partnership, who jointly nominated Dale and Andrew:

“Visionaries spawn great ideas, which may, with favorable current, move downstream into reality. Sometimes they are landed by engineers, who pull them in and develop them into working models. On rare occasion, the visionary is also the engineer. In a perfect scenario, there is an ideal partner, who is the engine.

The engineer: Dale Buser is a hydrogeologist and the founder and Principal Hydrogeologist for Northern Environmental Technologies.

Dale loves fish and he loves Ozaukee County. He spent much of his childhood outdoors, always observing the natural things that made up his playground. Over time, he became disturbed that the waterways were changing and the fish were no longer able to get upstream to spawn. He began to envision reconnecting the streams and rivers from Lake Michigan to the streams and wetlands in the Milwaukee River Watershed. He shared his vision with Ozaukee County Director of Planning and Parks, Andrew Struck, and Ozaukee County Director of Land and Water Management, Andy Holschbach, over and over and over, until everyone was seeing not only the same thing, but feeling the passion to make things right.

The engine: Andrew Struck is the Director of Parks and Planning for Ozaukee County. Andrew makes things happen for the environment in Ozaukee County. He is the force behind the expanding park system, the force behind the Interurban Trail, the force behind Farmland Preservation in Ozaukee. As stated in Treasures of Oz’s tribute to Andrew, “he is everywhere that is connected to environment in Ozaukee.” (February 2012 – Wizard of Oz – Andrew Struck)

The program in brief: The project enhances watershed habitat along the Milwaukee River by removing dams, installing nature-like fishways and removing low-head barriers. It is reconnecting 158 stream miles to Lake Michigan. Data is collected 24/7 in many ways, including an underwater fish camera, and yes, the fish are returning in greater numbers and greater variety.

The process – a mini-version: The fish passage program began with inventories in 2006 through a Wisconsin Coastal Management grant. This was followed by intensive work with all the Ozaukee communities connected to the project. (Because of the shape of the county, every single community was involved.)

The county received a NOAA grant in 2009 for the program. For the first six months, Dale and Andrew were the entire program. By 2010, they had hired a director, Matt Aho, and two interns.

More and more grants followed, leveraging well over eight million dollars to fund the creation and implementation of the Milwaukee River Watershed Fish Passage Program. What simply cannot be described in dollars has been the passion, energy, time and dedication that Dale and Andrew have put into this program. It is priceless.

Today Ozaukee County has a world recognized fish passage system that is still in the making, and already the fish are coming home.”