UPDATE ---- TRAIL REPAIR IS COMPLETE!! Terrell's Island will be open for visitors today at 12pm. Radtke Contractors did a fabulous job. They went above and beyond. Thank you so much!!!!!
** ATTENTION TRAIL VISITORS ** The excess water in the spring caused some erosion on the breakwall and the trail . We have a company coming to repair the damage. As a result the whole trail will be closed Thursday Aug 2 and Friday Aug 3; open for the weekend and then closed again Monday Aug 6 and Tuesday Aug 7. Sincere apologies for the short notice but these repairs are necessary to keep the trail in tip-top shape. Thank you for understanding. BDMCC
Please join or renew your membership with the Butte des Morts Conservation Club. Memberships support our work at Terrell's Island and will go towards updating the clubhouse building, maintenance on Terrell's Island, as well as funding projects to increase desirable wildlife and vegetation habitation.
Educators, use our classroom on Terrell's Island this fall. What a great way to teach preserving and restoring our natural resources! How about a writing class, or a biology class, even a social studies class? Terrell's Island is a great place to observe, experience, and enjoy nature. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a reservation or more information today!
Please join local paddlers in a water hyacinth monitoring event hosted by the Wisconsin Aquatic Invasive Species Partnership and River Alliance of Wisconsin.
Originally found in Lake Winneconne in October 2015, water hyacinth has the potential to significantly alter aquatic environments if it becomes established in Wisconsin. To prevent that from happening, a cleanup event occurred on Lake Winneconne in the fall of 2015. While it is unknown if water hyacinth can survive Wisconsin's winters, we are not willing to take that risk, and need your help to make sure no additional plants are present in Lake Winneconne.
Participants will be asked to paddle lake shore and channels near Lake Winneconne Park and will need to provide their own boats and paddles, life vests, water and other outdoor necessities (sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, etc.). Both canoes and kayaks can be used.
If you're unable to paddle, feel free to come down and check out our displays on aquatic invasive species and learn other ways you can help.
We will plan to paddle unless there are high winds, heavy rain or lightning. Please register in advance so we can contact you in the event of weather problems.
Click to register:
BDMCC Board President Pete Ehlert presented Jim Rescheske, Board President of Winneconne Thrift & Gift with a plaque of appreciation for their continued support of our projects at Terrell's Island at the General Membership meeting on October 5th. Winneconne Thrift & Gift donates profits from their store to area charities through their grant program every year!
The ramp to the Community Classroom is complete! This ramp will allow access to the Terrell's Island Community Classroom to people with all abilities. Thanks to all those who helped, especially Tom Herbert, Randy Pointon, Bob Albright, Ken Meier, Pete Stein, and Pete Guckenberg! Thanks again to Winneconne Thrift & Gift for your donation for the supplies!
The BDMCC would like to thank Kendall Prehn of Oshkosh for all of her hard work and dedication to her project at Terrell's Island!
"Prehn's Gold Award project helped to improve the public's knowledge of Terrell's Island and its environment. Owned by the nonprofit Butte des Morts Conservation Club, the 1,200-acre Terrell's Island consists of cattail marsh and wet meadow and was created in 1964 to assist landowners with shoreline protection.
Her project included planning, fundraising, building three Aldo Leopold benches, adding eight trail posts and creating a tri-fold brochure that tells visitors what they are seeing on the trail, which was constructed in 2013. In addition, Prehn also created a PowerPoint presentation that tells of the island's history and environment.
She personally put in more than 80 hours to complete the project.
Pete Guckenberg of the Butte des Morts Conservation Club served as Prehn's adviser. A member of Girl Scout Troop 2092, she is the daughter of Rob and Denise Prehn."
Here is the link to the article:
Kendall Prehn, of Oshkosh, created sign posts and conducted research on Terrell's Island for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Kendall installed sign posts throughout Terrell's Island that correlated to an informational pamphlet that she also created. This project will offer visitors a unique look at the history of Terrell's Island and the projects completed on the property.
By: Robert Zimmer
As waterfowl season arrives, the Butte des Morts Conservation Club and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources aim to create new wetland habitat to attract nesting ducks and other water birds.
Over the past several years, the arrival of American white pelicans to the area has created an unexpected problem. The Winnebago basin has become so attractive to the birds as a breeding area that some of their nesting areas are over-crowded and no longer desirable habitat for breeding waterfowl.
To restore a portion of wetland habitat to attract nesting waterfowl, the BDMCC, working with the DNR, is focusing on a series of five nesting islands located, with the Terrell's Island Wetland Restoration Area, along the south shore of Lake Butte des Morts.
The islands, within a protective limestone breakwall, are sheltered from wave action and erosion on the big lake.
Originally built to attract nesting diving ducks, such as redheads, and other waterfowl, recent years have seen them taken over by breeding pelicans. The population of white pelicans, as well as double-crested cormorants, has exploded in our area since the early 1990s. Conditions at the islands have become so severe that the club, along with the DNR, had to rethink ways to make them more attractive to nesting ducks and less attractive to the pelicans and cormorants.
To do this naturally, a restoration project began in September to return the islands to their original intended state.
DNR Winnebago System Biologist Arthur Techlow III said: "We are creating emergent plant beds that, if they become dense enough, may attract other water-nesting birds, such as Forster's terns, grebes and diving ducks, such as redheads. The main goal is to create additional wetland habitat while reducing the available nest area for cormorants and pelicans. The sheer numbers of these birds has caused a significant decline in local water quality and the fishery."
At last count, more than 1,200 pelican nests and 920 cormorant nests were located on the small series of islands.
According to Techlow, the islands offer the perfect nesting conditions for these birds — isolation from predators and human disturbance, as well as good foraging opportunities. The pelican population has become so high and the concentration of birds so dense that concerns such as avian botulism and other disease is sufficient cause to disperse the birds.
Pelicans dispersed from the nesting islands have other suitable habitat in the area for breeding.
"They have also been nesting on the breakwall itself and nearby privately owned islands," Techlow said.
Other nesting areas for pelicans around the area include colonies at Horicon, Green Bay and Lake Winnebago.
To deter some of the pelicans and cormorants from nesting here, the DNR will plant four species of emergent vegetation. Hardstem bulrush, river bulrush, three-square bulrush and bur-reed will be planted along the perimeter of each nesting island to create a barrier as they grow.
Diving ducks and grebes will be right at home in this shoreline barrier, while the pelicans, which prefer an open shoreline where they can waddle ashore quickly, will be deterred. Trees from the island, which were never intended but colonized there all on their own, will be removed to deter tree-nesting cormorants.
The restoration project, lower pelican numbers on the nest islands, and ongoing maintenance will result in higher numbers of nesting waterfowl in the area, as well as grebes and terns.
A population of redheads is especially desirable. The redhead is a stocky diving duck with reddish-maroon head and grayish back. Most redhead nesting areas exist west of the Mississippi River, but the bird has established several nest sites in Wisconsin wetlands, including Horicon.
By Art Techlow and Nicole DeKeuster.
In March of this year the Butte des Morts Conservation Club, together with the WDNR, built several nesting islands on Lake Butte des Morts. We are happy to report that we successfully attracted eleven nesting pairs of the State Endangered Common Tern.
The island is only about 30 x 40 feet across the top and 3 ½ feet above the lake surface. It is small, remote, unvegetated, and predator free – just what common terns like for nesting. Art Techlow, Biologist with the WDNR, counted eleven common tern nests with eggs on the island at the end of July. Adult terns had no problem warding off potential threats to their chicks, they defend their nests by swooping and diving at the perceived menace. Most often these are large birds such as geese, pelicans and cormorants which might accidentally trample nests and eggs. But sometimes they go after humans, as Art found out after being struck in the head several times over the years while checking nesting sites.
It only takes about three weeks for the young to fledge (i.e. to be able to fly), and by late August all the adults and their young had left the island. This is typical; the birds quickly disperse to better foraging areas as the young take wing. (Common terns feed on minnows and other small fish by diving on the wing.)
The successful hatch of common terns on the newly constructed island is the first on Lake Butte des Morts in well over ten years. And this new site is one of only four in Wisconsin currently being used by the birds for nesting. The success of these birds represents the strong commitment of all those involved in supporting, funding, designing and constructing this project.
Common terns are just one of many species that have been adversely affected by PCB contamination in the lower Fox River and Green Bay. The funds for construction of the islands came from the settlement reached with the companies responsible for releasing the toxin into our environment. No taxpayer money was used.
The island is part of the 1183 acre Terrell’s island property owned by the non-profit Butte des Morts Conservation Club. The property is open to the public and more information can be found on their website www.bdmcc.org. The club’s mission is to provide Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration (CPR) to the wetlands and wildlife habitat of Lake Butte des Morts, its' tributaries, and surrounding wetlands.
The Country Today
By Diane Baumgart
LAKE BUTTE DES MORTS- American white pelicans have found a home at the Terrell's Island wetlands. More than 600 pelicans nested there this year.
In 1998, the Butte des Morts Conservation Club purchased 1,200 acres of wetlands on the south shore of Lake Butte des Morts, which is part of the Lake Winnebago system. They placed the area into a non-profit public trust and began restoring the area as an attractive home for wildlife. Seven islands were built, with two of them completed in March. Club members added riprap, vegetation, fencing and netting. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources funded the construction of a break wall.
As preservation work continued, the birds took notice.
"We almost fell over when we found pelicans a year ago," said Pat Fisher, founder of Feather Rehabilitation Center in New London. "We were releasing a northern harrier in Omro when a kid said, 'Look at the pelicans.' There were about 300 of them flying in unison."
As they stood watching the birds, Ms. Fisher and the other rehabilitators wondered about the possibility of banding the birds. They contacted the conservation club and asked permission, which they got, along with a pontoon and other equipment. Club members showed them the main island filled with pelicans.
On May 31, they banded 11 pelicans.
"There were nests with babies all over the one island," Ms. Fisher said. "Some chicks were swimming; some were on nests, some walking around. There were eggs hatching. When you are in the boat it takes your breath away."
Banding them was challenging.
"We had no idea what we were up against," Ms. Fisher said. "It's messy work. (Pelicans) throw up fish on you."
Pelicans have wingspans up to 9 feet, Ms. Fisher said. They don't dive. They herd their dinner into shallow areas and scoop them up in their beaks. They lay an average of two eggs but the second chick usually doesn't survive.
A large percentage of the conservation property is wetlands, club president Nile Roeder said. The 12,000 acres is open for recreational fishermen but no hunting is allowed from the high grounds.
"We hope to preserve the natural resources and help Lake Butte des Morts act as a filter and breeding area for fish and natural species," Mr. Roeder said. "That's where banding of the pelicans makes a difference."
Learning about wildlife patterns, food consumption and water quality draws students, conservationists and natural resource personnel to the area. The DNR has collected regurgitation samples on Green Bay to identify which fish the pelicans eat. At Terrell's Island, it's mainly gizzard shad, Mr. Roeder said.
While the first day of banding went well, plans to return a second time didn't work out. June rain elevated the Fox River and the islands almost flooded, Ms. Fisher said. There were many dead birds and lost nests. The birds were stressed; eggs were found floating and many chicks drowned.
Along with nesting pelicans, great egrets were found on a nearby island. An endangered species, the egrets needed protection, Ms. Fisher said.
"Next year, we would like to get permission to band again. We could band earlier where it wouldn't interfere with nesting egrets," Ms. Fisher said. "And we would like to start education trips. We could take kids on boats. The BDMCC has to have individual groups come in throughout the year to maintain their status."
Mr. Roeder said they also hope to continue banding but would need to work closely with the DNR to achieve that goal.
While the area does not have any staff at the site, they hope to open a nature and visitor's center.
"We are trying to get funding to purchase a 20-acre parcel that is privately owned," Mr. Roeder said. "We are going through negotiations. The property would enable the club to build a nature center. Hopefully this area is preserved so future generations can enjoy the birds," Mr. Roeder said.
White pelicans also can be seen nesting at Cat Island in Green Bay and at Green Lake.
Diane Baumgart can be reached at email@example.com.