Volunteer work provides key habitat for wildlife on public lands in Columbia County

MADISON – In early April, members of several partner organizations assisted Department of Natural Resources staff to establish five small apple and crabapple tree plots, totaling 85 trees.

These plots will provide important habitat value for local wildlife over the next several decades.

The trees were planted on state-owned properties in Columbia County and funded through the federal Pittman-Robertson grant, which allocated approximately $175,000 to establish plantings for wildlife throughout Wisconsin. Properties that will benefit from these and previous plantings include Columbus, French Creek, Pine Island, Grassy lake, Mud Lake, Duck Creek, Swan Lake, Paradise Marsh, Pete Helland, and Hampden Marsh wildlife areas.

“A 12-tree plot costs a little over $1,000 with the use of volunteer hours and lifespan for these trees is approximately 50 – 60 years, so it's a great investment for the money spent,” said Al Ramminger, Columbia County DNR wildlife technician.

Partner organizations including the Ruffed Grouse Society, Portage and Deforest Boy Scouts, Pardeeville FFA, Pheasants Forever, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Wild Turkey Federation and Whitetails Unlimited provided support and volunteer labor for the project. Some of these organizations are willing to assist with the future maintenance of watering and pruning tree limbs. One group participates in the Adopt-a-Wildlife-Area program, in which organizations join forces with the department to manage public land.

The department selected planting sites to add diversity to the properties and complement natural habitat areas frequented by wildlife. The trees will attract pollinators, birds and small and large mammals throughout the seasons. Several sites were also selected to give disabled hunters easy access.

“These trees were planted for all recreationists to enjoy on public lands,” said Ramminger. “Bird watchers and nature lovers should experience more wildlife viewing including bird species foraging in these plots. Also, hunters will benefit from a variety of game species that will utilize these trees during the hunting seasons.”

To find one of these properties and learn more about other state wildlife areas, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “wildlife areas.”

Robert graduated from Brandman University, where he got his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Born in Massachusetts, Robert’s family moved to Kentucky in 2005 where he spent his college life and worked as an insurance agent for four years. Now is the founder and team leader of the website.

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