Contact(s): for field work: Dean Edlin, West Central Field Ecologist, 608-685-3252; Nate Fayram, Southwest Field Ecologist, 608-273-5943; For the Cherish Fund: Nora Simmons, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin communications director, 608-266-3138; Nora.Simmons@Wisconsin.gov
MADISON - Hunters buying their gun-deer licenses in coming weeks have the opportunity to make a small donation to help improve wildlife habitat on state lands. Before check out on the Go Wild licensing system, on-screen prompts ask license buyers if they want to make a small donation to the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoor Fund.
That public-private fund is a permanent endowment created in 2012 by the Wisconsin State Legislature to enhance Wisconsin's 1.5 million acres of public lands and waters and funded largely through optional, tax-deductible donations made by people when they purchase a hunting or fishing license or reserve a campsite. The Fund is held by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, also known as NRF, a private nonprofit 501c3 organization.
Work underway now at three State Natural Areas receiving the first disbursements from the Cherish fund "show how small donations add up to big benefits for hunters and other outdoor lovers," says Sanjay Olson, who leads DNR's Fish, Wildlife & Parks Division.
"Cherish funds are already making a difference this fall on the ground for wildlife, and for Wisconsin hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts," Olson says. "We are grateful to everyone who has contributed so far, and we invite hunters to donate again this fall to help wildlife habitat when they buy their gun-deer license."
Cherish funds are enhancing food sources and habitat for wild turkey, white-tailed deer, redheaded woodpeckers and numerous grassland birds at the Chippewa River State Natural Area in Dunn County. DNR State Natural Area crews based in Alma and La Crosse have used a variety of techniques - prescribed burns, forestry mowing, herbicide treatments among them - to remove invasive woody brush on 180 acres of floodplain savanna habitat along the Chippewa River. Restoration of the savanna ground layer also is enhancing nesting and brood-rearing habitat for game species such as wild turkey and waterfowl.
In southeastern Wisconsin, a Cherish grant funded work at two State Natural Areas in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest that included a 252-acre prescribed burn conducted in spring 2018. Other work included removing 6 acres of woody brush and trees with chainsaws, and 55 acres of mowing and cutting invasive wild parsnip and sweet clover. "Without management, these oak woodlands are giving way to dense invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle that provide poor habitat and food for native wildlife," says Nate Fayram, Southwest Wisconsin field ecologist for DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program.
Bruce Braun, a board member of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin notes that the Cherish fund has grown dramatically over the past few years and adds, "The future looks good for substantially increasing the Fund since it is apparent our sportspersons really care about taking care of our precious resources."
In addition to donating when buying a hunting or fishing license or reserving a campsite, donations can also be made directly to the Natural Resources Foundation at www.CherishWisconsin.org.