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Weekly News Published - October 2, 2018 by the Central Office

 

State Natural Resources board accepts donation to rebuild Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park

Contact(s): Missy Vanlanduyt, Wisconsin State Parks 608-266-7617 or Paul Holtan DNR Office of Communications, 608-267-7517

HAYWARD, Wis. - Plans to rebuild Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park took a major step forward when the State Natural Resources Board accepted a $750,000 donation from the Friends of Peninsula State Park at their September 25 meeting in Hayward.

The new design will consist of a 60-foot observation tower with a 1,000-square foot observation deck at the top and an accessible ramp approximately 850 feet long with an additional observation deck off the ramp. The project will also include a new accessible trail from the base of the ramp to the picnic and parking area; parking and repaving; interpretive displays; benches and connections to existing trails.

The new Eagle Tower will include an accessible ramp approximately 850 feet long ramp with an additional observation deck. - Photo credit: DNR
The new Eagle Tower will include an accessible ramp approximately 850 feet long ramp with an additional observation deck.Photo credit: DNR

The State Building Commission approved the $2.07 million project at its August meeting, meaning the project now has all necessary approvals. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources plans to proceed with the design and hopes to begin construction in early 2019 pending bid results and weather, with an estimated completion of late summer 2019.

An artistic drawing of the ramp to the new Eagle Tower. - Photo credit: Contributed image.
An artistic drawing of the ramp to the new Eagle Tower.Photo credit: Contributed image.

The DNR went through a public process to determine the final design solution for the new Eagle Tower including public meetings, meetings with key stakeholders, legislators, as well as a public survey to gain input on the feasible designs options.

The key design elements favored by the public included: looking like the old tower as much as possible, using cutting edge technology to extend life of new tower, being fiscally responsible, minimize operating costs and being accessible.

"We are extremely grateful to the Friends of Peninsula State Park for their generous donation and the extensive work they put into fundraising to restore this Door County icon," said Ben Bergey, Wisconsin State Park System Director. "We join the Friends group in looking forward to the return of Eagle Tower to the park."

DNR Secretary Dan Meyer presents a plaque of apprciation to Friends of Peninsula State Park President Chris Holicek. The donation was accepted at the September Natural Resources Board meeting in Hayward. Also pictured are NRB Chairman Terry Hilgenberg and Peninsula Superintendent Brian Markowski (right). - Photo credit: DNR
DNR Secretary Dan Meyer presents a plaque of appreciation to Friends of Peninsula State Park President Chris Holicek. The donation was accepted at the September Natural Resources Board meeting in Hayward. Also pictured are NRB Chairman Terry Hilgenberg and Peninsula Superintendent Brian Markowski (right).Photo credit: DNR

Gov. Scott Walker has also included $750,000 funds in the current budget to help build the tower and the DNR will be using other state and federal funds to rebuild the tower.

For more information on the Eagle Tower reconstruction search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords "Eagle Tower." People interested in more information on how to support the project or donate to the tower or other projects at the park should visit the Friends of Peninsula State Park website at www.peninsulafriends.org.

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Near-misses mark fourth season of comprehensive bird survey

Contact(s): Nicholas Anich, 715-685-2930 or Ryan Brady, 715-685-8585

MADISON - Four bird species rarely if ever confirmed as breeding in Wisconsin were sighted but not confirmed in 2018, tantalizing near-misses among the most notable results from the fourth season of a comprehensive bird survey.

Click on image for larger size.
Click on image for larger size.

"2018 was a year with a lot of exciting sightings, but ultimately, near-misses," says Ryan Brady, Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist and science coordinator for the survey, known as Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II. "So check barns for barn owls, and keep an eye out for these other species to see if we can claim them as Wisconsin breeding birds in our final year of data collection."

The four species sighted but not confirmed as breeding included a pair of eared grebes in Columbia County and a yellow-crowned night-heron in Jefferson County. The most talked about finds were a pair of American three-toed woodpeckers in Bayfield County and several barn owls found in southwestern Wisconsin.

American three-toed woodpeckers had been photographically documented only twice in Wisconsin since 1986 and never documented breeding here. The bird, named for having three instead of four toes like most woodpeckers, prefers boreal forests in Canada. Unfortunately, this year's Bayfield County pair departed in May before any further evidence of nesting was found, as recounted in this blog post by Brady, the observer.

A pair of American three-toed woodpeckers seen in Bayfield County in 2018. The species has only been photographically documented twice in Wisconsin since 1986. - Photo credit: Ryan Brady
A pair of American three-toed woodpeckers seen in Bayfield County in 2018. The species has only been photographically documented twice in Wisconsin since 1986.Photo credit: Ryan Brady

Barn owl populations have rebounded somewhat in more favored breeding areas of Iowa and Illinois, Brady says. "With sightings in Wisconsin slightly on the rise, it might not be long before they attempt to breed again in our southern or western grasslands."

Through four survey seasons, more than 1,700 volunteers have observed 242 bird species and confirmed 225 of them as breeding in Wisconsin. The total of new species confirmed breeding in Wisconsin since the first atlas survey 20 years ago still stands at 12.

2019 is final year for observations, volunteers needed more than ever

The five-year atlas effort aims to document every bird species breeding in Wisconsin, and where and when breeding occurs, to help guide conservation efforts. "Preliminary data is showing some species groups like grassland and aerial insectivores on the decline compared to the first survey, while other species, particularly those that may be benefiting from more forest cover, on the increase," says Nick Anich, Atlas survey coordinator for DNR.

The data collection portion of the survey is slated to wrap up in 2019 after the summer breeding season ends and coordinators are still looking for more volunteers. "While 85 percent of priority survey areas are completed or well underway, there are still over 500 survey blocks in which we need more help! Volunteer to survey one of these areas, and/or report birds nesting or engaging in other breeding behaviors," Anich says.

The biggest remaining gaps are in northern and western Wisconsin but there are still opportunities in every area of the state to help," Anich says. The best way to get involved is visit the project website, https://wsobirds.org/atlas and contact the County Coordinator for your county.

Bill Mueller, director of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, which is sponsoring the survey along with DNR, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, says it's easy to participate and people don't have to be an expert birder to help.

"We're constantly hearing from people how rewarding atlasing is, and we welcome participants of all ability levels."

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773