News briefs: The conservation edition

Look here, at the end of every week, for a collection of short news items and links to stories, events, and issues regarding Wisconsin’s whooping cranes, conservation issues, get-outdoors opportunities, and, perhaps other nature-based happenings.

It’s Earth Day Everyday !

How many times did you hear that phrase on Tuesday, April 22nd? A reminder that Earth Day shouldn’t be limited to just one day a year? Perhaps that idea’s catching on; there are a number of Earth Day activities (rounded up by the Green Bay Press Gazette) continuing near me this weekend. And the International Crane Foundation is celebrating “Party for the Planet” on Saturday (an initiative of the American Zoological Association). ICF is involved in several other weekend observances of Earth Day, as you can see via that link above, to its calendar. What’s happening where you are?

Sand Mining: Wisconsin’s new conservation issue 

In Wisconsin, sand mining is a new addition to the well-known list of conservation issues (water, air, land, energy and climate issues). Wisconsinites, like people everywhere, want and need more jobs, and the state has added some by mining Wisconsin’s plentiful sand and selling it to the hydrofracking industry.

A map of Wisconsin's counties. The counties most impacted by sand mining, including Monroe, Tremplelau, Pepin, and Chippewa, are on the western edge of the state. (from Wikimedia Commons)

A map of Wisconsin’s counties; those most impacted by sand mining, including, Monroe, Trempealeau, Pepin, and Chippewa, are on the western edge of the state. (from Wikimedia Commons)

Unsurprisingly, though, new jobs that involve mining and selling the state’s natural resources, come with some built-in conflicts. This article in The Great Lakes Echo takes a good look at how sand mining is “reshaping the resident’s lives” – in ways positive and not-so – in four counties in western Wisconsin: Monroe, Trempealeau, Pepin, and Chippewa.

I called the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters for some more input on the growth of sand mining in Wisconsin, and learned this: In the last five years, “Wisconsin frac sand facilities have grown from less than a handful to more than 100.” The group’s Executive Director, Kerry Schumann, and Field Director Tom Stolp, made a fact-finding, photographing tour of some of the sand mining areas in September 2013.

A stockpile of Great Northern Sand arises on a Wisconsin prairie along Highway 53. (Photo courtesy Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters)

A stockpile of Great Northern Sand arises on a Wisconsin prairie along Highway 53. (Photo courtesy Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters)

 

One Man and 673 State Natural Areas

Fortunately, Wisconsin still has more State Natural Areas than most people will experience in their lifetimes. Have you visited any State Natural Areas?  Do you have a favorite?  If so, you’re sure to enjoy this link to an article at the Journal Sentinel Online about a contemporary explorer of Wisconsin, and his quest to visit each and every one of Wisconsin’s designated State Natural Areas. Does that sound difficult? It is! And even more so than you might realize, as the article explains. One DNR employee, conservation biologist Randy Hoffman, has done it as part of his job, and it’s taken him nearly 30 years to complete the assignment.

But this story belongs to Joshua Mayer, a research associate at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, who has been pursuing a personal quest, since 2009, when a few nature hikes with a new camera led to bigger thinking. “I got a few under my belt, and I thought I might make this a little project,” Mayer told J-S writer Lee Bergquist.

The view from Observatory Hill in Marquette County. Photo by Joshua Mayer who is visiting and photographing all of Wisconsin's hundreds of State Natural Areas.

The view from Observatory Hill in Marquette County. Photo by Joshua Mayer who is visiting and photographing all of Wisconsin’s hundreds of State Natural Areas.

To date he has visited 337 of the natural areas, and has posted over 10,000 photos, documenting these excursions, at Flickr! Here (above) is one of them, showcasing the view from Observatory Hill which is in John Muir Country in Marquette County

Get Outdoors and Enjoy Yourself !

Here’s one more way: Grab a pair of binoculars and head outside for some birding. Are you a rookie birder? Would you like to be one? Read this, and you can soon be on your way. Andy Paulious, a DNR wildlife biologist, offered these birdwatching tips and suggestions on Wisconsin Public Radio earlier this month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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