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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Butler’s gartersnake Among Those Delisted from Wisconsin Endangered and Threatened Species List

by Heather Patti 7. January 2014 08:42

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has completed a review of Wisconsin's rare species and has finalized a rule resulting in changes to Ch. NR 27, Wis. Admin. Code.  The code adds eight species, removes 15 species and updates 20 scientific names on the Wisconsin C list.

Of particular note to the Milwaukee area, the Butler’s gartersnake (Thamnophis butleri) was delisted from the threatened list because the species appears to be stable based on surveys and genetic studies. In addition, the Blanding’s turtle, another species found in Southeast Wisconsin, was also delisted from the threatened list. The delisting of these species was a very controversial issue as it  means that an incidental take permit or authorization will no longer be required if the species or their habitat are present in a project area.

The new rule is effective January 1, 2014.  Please contact R.A. Smith National wetland ecologists/WDNR certified endangered resources reviewers, Heather Patti (262) 317-3361 or Tina Myers (262) 317-3389 with any questions.

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Seasonal Wetlands Provide Critical Habitat for Wildlife

by Heather Patti 24. April 2013 07:25

Scattered across the Upper Midwest are thousands of small seasonally wet areas that may only be saturated or hold water from late fall to late spring or early summer. Seasonal wetlands (also known as “vernal ponds”) result from winter snowmelt and spring rains, and typically occur in depressional areas in woods and open fields. By mid-summer, most seasonal wetlands have dried out or are just barely moist. Some are almost indiscernible across the landscape.

Although many of these seasonal wetlands may be less than an acre or even a half-acre in size, they provide an important food source for migratory birds, waterfowl, breeding and feeding areas for amphibians and reptiles, and critical winter food supplies for turkey, deer and other birds and mammals.

There are many different types of seasonal wetlands including seasonally flooded basins, farmed depressions, hardwood swamps, springs and seeps, and lake plain prairies. If you are lucky enough to own any of these seasonal wetlands, you will notice they are used by a wide variety of wildlife.  Seasonal wetlands are gaining recognition as important habitats because of their unique role in the landscape, their valuable wetland function, and the critical habitat they provide for wildlife.

If you have any questions about seasonal wetlands, wetland delineation or the current wetland permitting process, the ecologists at R.A. Smith National can provide the assistance you need.  Please contact Heather Patti at (262) 317-3361 or Tina Myers at (262) 317-3389.

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WDNR Puts Online Permit System In Place

by Heather Patti 2. August 2012 04:54

The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources is setting up a new online permit system for some state water-related permits. WDNR water officials state that the new system will reduce paperwork and deliver quicker and more consistent permit decisions, while protecting lakes, rivers and wetlands. 

The online permit system has several different parts that are being phased in over the next year, so check back often as the system will be updated periodically. For the first time, applicants can now find 72 of the nearly 100 water-related permit applications on the same web page.

And, applicants for three of the most popular permit types can now fill out their applications, pay fees and track the progress of their applications online! The three permit types which are now ready for online processing are:  individual permits for wetland and waterway projects, permit applications for wastewater pit trench de-watering, and permit applications for aquatic plant management on private ponds. Several more are soon to come! These include wetland and waterway general permits, storm water construction site and Confined Animal Waste Operation (CAFO) permits.  More details are available in DNR’s media release.

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Spring Has Sprung; Think Wetland Delineations

by Heather Patti 19. March 2012 08:01

Happy Spring! The fieldwork season for wetland delineations is quickly approaching. Wetland delineations must be conducted during the “growing season” – which has many definitions. Both the traditional agricultural usage of the frost-free period and scientists’ concept of biological zero are included in the definition of “growing season.”

Since we usually lack direct soil temperature data, agency guidance allows for field observations of above-ground plant growth to estimate the onset of the growing season. Here’s what I look for – if above-ground plant growth (known as “green out”) is readily observable in the form of bud burst on woody plants, emergence of herbaceous plants from the ground, or opening of flowers, then I know the growing season has sprung!



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