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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Protecting Class 1 Trout Streams in Wisconsin

by Eric Sturm 20. March 2017 12:03

Eric Sturm

Did you know that, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), there are “5,289 miles of Class 1 trout streams in Wisconsin?” That’s a significant amount of trout stream waters that WDNR has classified as “high quality and having sufficient natural reproduction to sustain populations of wild trout, at or near carry capacity.”

While many Wisconsin trout streams have remained untouched, there are some streams that have been disturbed over the years for agricultural purposes and are now being restored. Because it is important to understand the original location of these streams before they can be reconstructed, WDNR works with a professional land surveyor such as R.A. Smith National to both identify the original location of the stream as well as stake the path for the reconstruction.

Scuppernog River

Our survey crews at R.A. Smith National recently provided construction staking and topographic surveying services to the WDNR for the reconstruction of 3,900 lineal feet of Bluff Creek Class 1 trout stream in Whitewater and previously provided the same services for 5,250 lineal feet of Scuppernong River Class 1 trout stream in Eagle.

Our survey crews identify where the stream was originally located (typically referencing historical photos), measure the existing elevation at each end of the section of stream to be reconstructed, collect topographic data every 50 feet along the stream’s path using GPS, and provide construction staking to identify exactly where the new stream should be constructed to most closely match the stream’s original location.

R.A. Smith National’s working partnership with the WDNR to restore Class 1 trout streams represents our organization’s commitment to the environment as a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Green Tier company.

Map of Scuppernog River

In order to identify where Scuppernog River was once located, and in an effort to restore this important trout stream, our land surveyors collected topographic data and measured existing stream elevations.

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Ecology | Surveying

Regulation of the Invasive Species Takeover

by Theran Stautz 25. February 2016 13:14

Our native landscape is our home, the little world we live in, where we are born and where we play, where we grow up, and finally where we are… laid to eternal rest. It speaks of the distant past and carries our life in the tomorrow. To keep this pure and unadulterated is a sacred heritage and noble task of the highest cultural value. 
— Jens Jensen, landscape architect, 1860-1951

Theran Stautz, ecologist/project manager

Invasive species, both animal and vegetative, are becoming an increasingly large problem in the United States. Nationally, billions of dollars are spent every year by private landowners, municipalities, non-profits and state agencies to control the spread of these species.  In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources alone spent approximately $11 million to control invasive species in 2013 (WDNR Invasive Species Report, 2013).

Two examples of recent invasive species issues are the attempts to prevent Asian carp from becoming established in the Upper Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, and the infestation of Phragmites on the south and west shores of Green Bay. Those of us who enjoy camping know firsthand how the State Park System rules have changed in the last several years in regard to firewood and the spread of the emerald ash borer.

Phragmites patch overtaking a stormwater basin.Phragmites patch overtaking a stormwater basin.

The Wisconsin Legislature established “the Invasive Species Rule” in 2009, making it “illegal to possess, transport, transfer or introduce certain invasive species in Wisconsin without a permit” (Wis. Adm. Code ch. NR 40). A list of regulated species can be found at the WDNR’s website.  Additionally, in 2013 the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council created a statewide strategic plan for 2013-2016, highlighting objectives and goals to guide stakeholders in the process of establishing invasive species control plans.

If you are interested in helping with these efforts, please contact your local Prairie Enthusiasts chapter or The Nature Conservancy for more information.  In addition, other local organizations such as Wild Ones, Pheasants Forever and State Parks “Friends” groups provide educational opportunities and other volunteer events.  You can also contact any one of our ecologists at R.A. Smith National.

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Ecology

Top 8 Amazing Sights of Nature

by Tina Myers 29. June 2015 14:41

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.

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Ecology

Don’t End Up All Wet. Take Time for Real Estate Due Diligence.

by Theran Stautz 17. March 2015 07:53

As a wetland delineator, the worst part of my job is giving bad news to someone who purchased property to build their dream home, only to find out that they can’t build because there are wetlands present.  It pays to do research in the beginning of your property search instead of getting stuck with a parcel that contains a significant amount of unbuildable wetland area. With just a little bit of work, wetland due diligence as part of a real estate transaction can save you time, money and bad news.

Below are a few great websites to check out for more information.

  • Visit the Wisconsin DNR’s Wetlands web page and explore the “Locating Wetlands” section.
    http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wetlands/
  • Explore the WDNR Surface Water Data Viewer. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/surfacewater/swdv/ 
    Pay particular attention to wetlands less than two acres, wetland indicator soils and inventoried wetlands, as these features could impact how you develop your site.
  • If you believe there may be wetlands on your property, have a wetland professional visit the site to determine if wetlands are present. Wetland determinations and delineations completed by WDNR Assured Delineators are pre-approved by the WDNR, due to the delineator’s high level of education, experience and proven quality. Read my blog for more information.
    Avoid Delays, Mitigate Risk by Hiring a Wisconsin DNR Assured Wetland Delineator
  • Check with local agencies (county/town/municipality) for specific zoning requirements such as shoreland zoning, ecologically sensitive areas and other setbacks. Learn more about WDNRs regulations. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ShorelandZoning/
  • Include a Real Estate Addendum with your real estate offer. This allows the buyer to verify the presence of wetlands and to negotiate the offer if wetlands are found on the property. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wetlands/addendum.html

More Information
If you would like more information about R.A. Smith National’s ecological services, or are in need of wetland delineation services, please contact me in our Madison, Wis. office at 608-467-2685, ext. 3298 or theran.stautz@rasmithnational.com or contact Heather Patti in our Brookfield, Wis. office at 262-317-3361 or heather.patti@rasmithnational.com.

 

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Ecology

Avoid Delays, Mitigate Risk by Hiring a Wisconsin DNR Assured Wetland Delineator

by Theran Stautz 11. February 2015 04:00

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ assured wetland delineation program provides property owners and developers with several key benefits:  a high level of accuracy in delineating wetland boundaries for project planning purpose; cost and time savings for the property owner or developer; and enhanced protection of Wisconsin wetland boundaries based on highly accurate wetland delineations.

By hiring an assured wetland delineator, a property owner or developer can save up to 60 days of WDNR review time and $300 per 20 acres in review fees – a significant savings particularly when time is of the essence to get a project through the approval process and/or a large site is involved. These time and cost savings are possible since an assured wetland delineator is not required to obtain WDNR concurrence. Because of the program’s thorough review and rigorous approval process for assured wetland delineators, clients can be confident that their assured wetland delineation provides a high level of accuracy and is completed to WDNR standards. The WDNR’s high standards for assured wetland delineators and the level of effort that is provided reduces the likelihood of delays in state permit decisions. (It is important to note that assured wetland delineations still require the approval of the US Army Corps of Engineers.)

R.A. Smith National’s Heather Patti and myself (Theran Stautz) are two of just nine assured wetland delineators in Wisconsin. Heather has been in the program since 2009. I have been in the program since 2011. Combined, Heather and I have completed more than 100 assured wetland delineations.

Assured wetland delineators must have or meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree in natural sciences or resources
  • Completion of a 40-hour wetland delineation training course
  • > 5 Years of full-time professional experience performing wetland related services
  • Demonstrated proficiency in applying the 1987 COE Manual and Regional Supplements in wetland delineation report preparation
  • Continuing education coursework requirements
  • Submittal of all wetland reports to WDNR for periodic review of a select few
  • Completion of one field review annually

If you would like more information about R.A. Smith National’s ecological services, or are in need of wetland delineation services, please contact me in our Madison, Wis. office at 608-467-2685, ext. 3298 or theran.stautz@rasmithnational.com or contact Heather Patti in our Brookfield, Wis. office at 262-317-3361 or heather.patti@rasmithnational.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:

Ecology

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