Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Adult and kids planting trees © Patricia D. Murphy

Tree planting is a great way to get kids outdoors and interested in the future of a healthy environment .
© Patricia D. Murphy

April 2013

Celebrate Earth Day

And look beyond it with its founder, Gaylord Nelson.

Ellen Corso, Amamda Laurenzi and Carolyn Rumery Betz

There is no shortage of actions you can take, choices you can make, or events you can attend to honor Earth Day (April 22). Personal awareness and behavior change in our lives can add up to a significant benefit in our communities. Wisconsin has events and opportunities in abundance to inspire and inform on this 43rd annual Earth Day. Here are a few.

Plant a tree

As the date also coincides with Arbor Day (April 26 this year), over time Earth Day has taken on the role of tree-planting. Planting trees helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cleans pollution, secures soil to prevent erosion and provides homes for biodiversity. Be sure to pick a tree that you know can survive in your climate. If you’re unsure about what that might be, ask at your local garden shop or consider a Gift of Green.

The Gift of Green is a packet of 300 tree seedlings for conservation purposes from DNR’s tree nursery program and helps contribute to a greener, healthier environment. Call the Griffith State Nursery at (715) 424-3700 to order; after the nursery receives your payment, it will send you a gift certificate to present. Visit: DNR Tree Planting

Candy Ridlbauer and red-tailed hawk © Kris Koch
Red-Tailed hawk at the Rotary's raptor presentation.
© Kris Koch

Get the beat

Walk harmoniously with nature in Wisconsin Rapids from April 12 to 14. Join in the "Central Wisconsin Prairie Chicken Festival: A Celebration of Grasslands" with greater prairie chicken viewing, birding tours, children’s crafts, wildlife talks and demonstrations, local vendors, nature art and literature, book sales and more. Observe the prairie chicken’s unique courtship dance and hear its resonant boom. Be ready to get up early and make your reservations to view birding blinds. Call (715) 343-6215, visit: Prairie Chicken Festival or view Greater Prairie Chicken Dance

Capture nature

Join the Janesville Rotary Botanical Gardens Earth Day Extravaganza, a botanical showcase providing education and appreciation of horticulture for all people. In honor of Earth Day the gardens will be open to the public at no charge April 19 to 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The celebration will include displays, activities for children of all ages, as well as self-guided walks, presentations and entertainment for families.

Stop at the Cottage Garden Gallery shop featuring works of art from local Wisconsin artists. For additional information call (608) 752-3885 or visit: Rotary Botanical Gardens . The Rotary Botanical Gardens is located at 1455 Palmer Drive in Janesville.

Look Beyond Earth Day

Amanda Laurenzi

Gaylord Nelson, author of Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise and governor of Wisconsin from 1959 to 1963, founded what we have come to recognize as Earth Day beginning April 22, 1970. Nelson died in 2005 but his message of global environmental stewardship lives on in his writings and in the public awareness campaigns of those who continue to teach his work.

In Beyond Earth Day (The University of Wisconsin Press, 2012) Nelson explores what the major threats to our environment are and how humans can help push back the effects these problems have on us and our planet.

"This new edition of Beyond Earth Day will introduce the wisdom of Gaylord Nelson to new generations. His words are as meaningful and perhaps even more important now as they were four decades ago. He understood the value of reaching children through the schools: hopefully they will be encouraged to work together around the world for the future of planet Earth." – Jane Goodall

The book also contains a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and a preface by Tia Nelson.

Clear out the clutter

Why not organize a community garage sale or donation drive of household items? Sometimes we take up a lot of space with stuff we don’t really need, want or use and there are people who are in need of basic necessities. Plus, a lot of your unwanted clutter can be used by local charities to sell for much-needed cash.

Network and take action

The 7th Annual Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference is April 15 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison. This year’s conference will raise awareness of the many frontiers of environmental action, including, but also beyond, traditional wilderness areas: in neighborhoods and communities, in forward-thinking business models and in sustainable urban areas. This one-day event features appearances from renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, marine conservation advocate and filmmaker Céline Cousteau and Nelson Institute director Paul Robbins. For more information visit: Nelson Institute

Family fun

Mark the calendar for April 28 — a day of family fun and exploring nature’s secrets, join Friends of Sandhill Open House from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The property features low, sandy uplands of oak, aspen and jack pine forests, large marshes and many flowages. A small herd of American bison, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, Canada geese, ducks, loons, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, shorebirds, songbirds, hawks, owls and furbearers find a great home at Sandhill. You will find the land is a remote, quiet wildlife oasis amidst a bustling world dominated by people. Sandhill Wildlife Area is located in southwestern Wood County. The headquarters and visitors entrance is at 1715 County Highway X, Babcock. For more information call (715) 884-2437.

Find Froggy Hike Night on May 2 at Hemlock Curve Nature Trail. Learn about the interesting lives of native frogs in the Peshtigo Harbor Wildlife area. The hike is about 2.5 miles and insect/tick repellent is recommended. The program is free. For more information call (715) 732-7784 or visit: the real north Marinette County, WI

Leopold's Legacy

Carolyn Rumery Betz

On Earth Day, consider visiting "The Shack" and nearby Leopold Center. Maybe it will be your first time. Or maybe it’s time to visit again.

Among the many legacies that Aldo Leopold left Wisconsin are the meticulous phenological records that he kept, tracking plants and wildlife around his shack in Sauk County, a tradition still followed by the family and staff of the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

"Phenology was a daily pleasure of my mother’s," says Trish Stevenson, daughter of Nina Leopold Bradley and granddaughter of Aldo Leopold. Stevenson has a particular passion for tracking birds, and she documents their spring arrival dates on the wall calendar in her Black Earth home in the tradition of the family.

Ongoing phenological records are maintained by the Aldo Leopold Foundation with help from Teresa Mayer, who worked closely with Bradley before her death in 2011. The cumulative records cover about 300 seasonal events. These data are managed by Stan Temple, emeritus professor at UW-Madison and a memberof the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts’ (WICCI) wildlife and outreach groups.

Temple gives dozens of lectures each year on phenology and climate change. Temple and his colleagues recently used Leopold’s records, as well as those of Henry David Thoreau, to document that native plants in the eastern United States are flowering as much as a month earlier in response to a warming climate.

For information on visiting Leopold’s shack and farm go to The Aldo Leopold Foundation

Ellen Corso is the circulation manager for Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

Amamda Laurenzi writes for Wisconsin Natural Resources when she isn’t studying at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Carolyn Rumery Betz is an outreach specialist at the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.