As part of our June 30x30 Nature Challenge Month, wetland ecologist and amateur photographer Tina Myers would like to encourage all of you to step away from your electronic devices this summer, get in touch with your natural heritage, and discover the amazing spectacles found in nature in your own backyard. You never know what you may come across! For example, take a look at these photos and learn something you may not have already known…
Photo 1: There are 21 species of snakes in Wisconsin, four of which are endangered. This particular snake, the Butler’s garter snake, was listed as State Threatened for many years, but was removed from the list on January 1, 2014, and is now listed as Special Concern.
Photo 2: There are over 160 species of dragonflies and damselflies that can be found in Wisconsin. This particular species, found during a field visit in Franklin, Wis., is a female green darner. Like so many species, dragonflies depend on aquatic ecosystems to fulfill their lifecycles.
Photo 3: This beauty is known as the Dwarf Lake Iris and is a State–Threatened and Federally Threatened plant found near Lake Michigan. This small plant grows nowhere else in the world but in the Great Lakes Region. I was lucky enough to see it in bloom at a nature preserve near Bailey’s Harbor, Wis., just a couple of weeks ago.
Photo 4: You often see beautiful tropical orchids being sold at grocery stores and garden centers these days. But did you know there are approximately 50 different species of orchids in Wisconsin that are just as beautiful? Many are quite rare and are listed as Threatened or Endangered. This particular species, the large yellow lady’s slipper, is locally abundant in Door County where I took this photo. There are six species of lady slipper orchids alone in Wisconsin.
Photo 5: Native prairie ecosystems once covered a large portion of our landscape throughout the Midwest, but due to urban development and agriculture, these ecosystems have become quite rare. In fact, the native tallgrass prairie is thought to be the most endangered ecosystem in North America. This photo shows a rare low prairie found not more than an hour away from our Brookfield office in the Southern Kettle Moraine.
Photos 6 and 7: Winter is no excuse for not getting out to enjoy the wonders that nature has to offer. These photos were taken up at the Lake Superior Bayfield Peninsula Ice Caves. These ice caves are not open every year to the public and sometimes the ice is only safe enough to walk on for a week or two, so seeing these up close is quite rare. People came out in droves to see them the last two winters. But even if you can’t get there in winter, that’s OK; just take a trip in summer and see the caves up close in person via kayak!
Photo 8: Clean water is important to all of us. Wisconsin boasts some of the most beautiful lakes and rivers in the Midwest, like this one up near Crivitz. The USEPA recently came out with a new “Clean Water Rule,” which more precisely defines waters that are protected under the Clean Water Act. For more information about this rule, click here.
And a bonus Photo 9: Did you know that the month of June is designated as Leave No Child Inside Month? More than ever, children are spending more time using electronic devices like TVs, cell phones and computers that are steering further away from their natural heritage. This summer, be sure to spend some quality time with your children in the great outdoors and teach them the importance of nature.
What are your favorite nature sightings? Let us know in the comments.