Winter 2017 Newsletter

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Students learning about Wisconsin River island ecology - BLM PhotoStudents learn about Wisconsin River island ecology. BLM Photo.The Northeastern States Field Office manages a few hundred islands in rivers and lakes throughout Wisconsin. These are islands that were omitted from the original land survey. Our largest island in Wisconsin is about 180 acres and is in the Wisconsin River in Portage. This island is mostly wooded but contains several small patches of remnant savanna, our most endangered habitat type. Savannas throughout the Midwest have typically disappeared as trees have encroached on lands that used to experience periodic wildfires.

In 2013, the BLM contacted Bartels Middle School in Portage and asked whether they would like to cooperate with us to take some students out to the island to learn about various habitat types, invasive species, wildlife, and ecological restoration. They eagerly took us up on our offer, and we have taken small groups out to the island each spring and fall since then. The students have learned orienteering, plant identification, and birding skills and have analyzed water surface water samples, cut non-native, invasive shrubs, and mapped land features using a GPS unit.

Our partner teacher, Jenny Karpelenia, is passionate about exposing her students to real-world science, and she is working with us to develop lesson plans that keep the students close to the process of restoring the savannas. They will be collecting seeds, inventorying trees, and possibly helping us design firebreaks, trails, and other improvements. Since getting to the island is often our biggest challenge, we may incorporate canoe training into the curriculum, giving the students a valuable skill that will enable them to enjoy and study aquatic habitats.

This island has a lot of potential for important wildlife habitat, nature-based recreation, and environmental education. We joined the Hands on the Land program for the mentoring and other support that the program provides and to give our budding program continuity. We are hopeful that students for years to come will get to learn from, and participate in, the exciting process of restoring over 100 acres of fabulous wildlife habitat. We dream of these students telling their children, with pride, "I planted that oak tree."

Contact: Derek Strohl, Bureau of Land Management, Northeastern States District, (414) 297-4416, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Land Snails and Millipedes on the Parkway

Large millipede - Blue Ridge ParkwayLarge millipede, Blue Ridge Parkway. NPS Photo.How can you protect what you don’t know you have? The National Park Service is charged by Congress with conserving “the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein” for all the lands under its care. Americans can do this best when they know what plants, animals, and fungi—the “wild life”—is found on those lands. Recently, the staff of the Blue Ridge Parkway has been partnering with taxonomists, volunteer citizen scientists, school children, and Hands on the Land to conduct inventories of important invertebrates along the Parkway.

In 2015, this team conducted an inventory of bumble bee species from the north end of Shenandoah National Park to the south end of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was spurred on by the reported disappearance of several species of bumble bee in the east, one of which—the rusty patched bumble bee—is now classified as an endangered species. Though none of the missing bees were found, the group did find 10 other species and provide material for a study of how genes flow between bee populations across long distances.

For spring and summer of 2017 Park staff and citizen scientists will try to inventory land snails and millipedes along the Parkway. Both land snails and millipedes are extremely important for decomposing leaf litter. Land snails are an important source of the calcium breeding songbirds need for their eggs and some species produce slime when they are threatened that fluoresces under UV light. In addition to offering two in-person training sessions this spring, training information will also be posted on Hands in the Land and use the great resource of the website for coordinating the collecting effort and sharing the data. Watch this site or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

home heros croppedHome Heros

Explore the Home Heroes infographic created by NEEF and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to discover how home buyers and sellers can get the better homes and better value they want through home energy performance. The infographic is designed around three main themes—opportunity is calling, buyers need your help, and sellers need your help—to encourage and help real estate professionals promote the benefits of improved energy performance among buyers and sellers.

Download the infographic here.

2017 Hands on the Land Mini-Grants

NEEF and Partners in Resource Education (PRE) announced the 26 recipients of the Hands on the Land (HOL) mini-grants. The grants, totaling $90,000, support high quality place-based environmental education and STEM programming on the nation's public lands and waterways.

Grants, in amounts ranging from $1,200 to $5,000 each, were awarded to the following 26 recipients in 15 states across the nation:

Alaska

  • Anchorage School District, Bureau of Land Management: Campbell Creek Science Center – Anchorage, AK,

Arizona

  • Audubon River Pathways, Bureau of Land Management: Agua Fria National Monument – Phoenix, AZ, Arizona

Arkansas

  • North Arkansas College Foundation Incorporated, National Park Service: Buffalo National River - Harrison, AR,

California

  • ACORN Partners in Education, Bureau of Land Management: Ukiah Field Office – Ukiah, CA

  • Mattole Restoration Council, Bureau of Land Management: King Range National Conservation Area – Whitethorn, CA

  • Ojai Valley School, National Park Service: Ojai Valley School/Channel Islands National Park – Ventura, CA

  • Cordell Marine Sanctuary Foundation, NOAA: Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary – Point Reyes Station, CA

  • Greater Farallones Association, NOAA: Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary – San Francisco, CA,

  • NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary: MERITO Foundation – Goleta, CA who is recipient or what is public land?

  • National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, NOAA: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – Santa Cruz, CA

Colorado

  • Colorado Canyons Association, Bureau of Land Management: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area – Grand Junction, CO

Idaho

  • Parma Learning Center, Bureau of Land Management: Idaho State Office – Boise, ID

Mississippi

  • Tupelo Public School District, National Park Service: Natchez Trace Parkway – Tupelo, MS

Montana

  • Will James Middle School, Bureau of Land Management: Pompeys Pillar National Monument - Billings, MT

New Hampshire

  • Audubon Society of New Hampshire, US Fish and Wildlife Service: Nashua National Fish Hatchery – Nashua, NH

New Mexico

  • Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Bureau of Land Management: Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument – Las Cruces, NM

  • Friends of Sloan Canyon, Bureau of Land Management: Friends of Sloan Canyon – Las Vegas, NM

  • Rio Rancho Public Schools, Bureau of Land Management: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument – Albuquerque, NM

New York

  • Warwick Valley Central School District, US Fish and Wildlife Service: Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge – Albany, NY

Pennsylvania

  • Friends of the Heinz Refuge at Tinicum, US Fish and Wildlife Service: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum – Philadelphia, PA

Tennessee

  • Great Smoky Mountains Association, National Park Service: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Gatlinburg, TN

Virginia

  • James River Association, US Fish and Wildlife Service: Presquile National Wildlife Refuge – Charles City, VA

Washington

  • Nisqually River Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service: Nisqually River Foundation – Lacey, WA

  • National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, NOAA: Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary – Port Angeles, WA

  • North Cascades Institute, US Forest Service: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – Everett, WA

This year’s recipients plan to conduct student projects and programs such as conducting bird surveys, vegetation monitoring and stream quality assessments, planting native plant nurseries, removing invasive vegetation, and compiling and analyzing plant restoration and wildlife data, among many other educational activities. Recipients have one year to complete their proposed projects, which can include professional development or equipment purchases. Funding support for this cycle of HOL grants comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NEEF.

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