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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

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© Kyle Anderson
© Kyle Anderson

December 2006

Outagamie dike repair, pump and pump housing

A critical connection between water levels and wildlife

Natasha Kassulke

The 997-acre Outagamie Wildlife Area, located six miles north of Shiocton, in the towns of Bovina and Maine, is a popular place for watching wildlife from the parking areas or the dikes. Yet, during spring and fall, the Wolf River often floods the area. In the summer, droughts dry up important nesting and migratory areas. The major nesting species in these areas are mallards, black ducks, blue-winged teal, mergansers and wood ducks. Migrants include these species and a variety of dabbling and diving ducks.

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To regulate the water levels in the area and provide protected areas and food sources for wildlife, the NRDAR has invested $50,000 in dike repair and securing a building for efficient pump maintenance. With no repairs, the structure would have deteriorated, causing bigger bills in the future. The old pumphouse did not provide adequate ventilation or security, and the pump was inaccessible. During the summer months, the temperature inside the pumphouse caused the pump motor to shut off. The small door did not allow efficient pump removal for repairs and the building was damaged by weather and vandalism.

If successful, the Outagamie dike repair and pump project will lead to increased waterfowl production, brood rearing sites, stable water depths, and a sight-seeing area for the public to view wildlife. Sedges and other native waterfowl food sources also are managed on this property by maintaining water flows. The pumping unit is very important in preserving plant communities. Several hundred ducks will live here and this property is home to ospreys, great egrets, black terns, red shouldered hawks, northern shrikes, little green herons, yellow-headed blackbirds and Blanding's turtles. Most of these species are classified as threatened within Wisconsin. The community also stands to capitalize on the investment. The northern Outagamie business community will be relying on this area as a tourist attraction.

Natasha Kassulke is associate editor of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.