Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Inc.

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Dear Mindy Habecker & the Dane County Environmental Council,

The Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy’s education program has six field trip lesson plans directly linked to grade-level specific curricular units. With your help, this year we began making improvements to those lessons, which were originally created in 2009. The improvements include consideration of the Next Generation Science Standards.

A committee consisting of myself, (match dollars) and two naturalists (grant funded) completed a majority of the enhancements for four of our six field trip lesson plans so far. We intend to complete the remainder in 2014 for the following reasons: 1) the field season has been too busy since June to continue this work on the lesson plans, 2) our strong school district partner informed us that they will be re-visiting aspects of their science curriculum in late 2014 based on new standards. We would like to collaborate with them in this work.

You awarded $900 to this effort and so far $600 has been used. The photos are included in the new lesson plans, reflecting an improvement in the clarity and organization of set-up information for new naturalists running a program. During this year’s field season, 10 naturalists and 535 students made use of these improved lesson plans.

Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,
Colleen Robinson Klug
Education Coordinator
education@pheasantbranch.org
608-767-2394

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Visit Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy website at pheasantbranch.org


Dear Mindy Habecker & the Dane County Environmental Council,

The Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy’s education program is working to reach out more to middle school grade-levels. We would also like to support and benefit from data collection regarding the water quality in the Pheasant Branch over time.

With your support, we will be able to support interested teachers on their first water quality monitoring field trips with their classrooms. This will impact teacher confidence and increase the likelihood of future field trips.

In 2013 we spread the word about a summer Water Action Volunteers stream monitoring program training for teachers and naturalists (match dollars) that was already being held in August. Three people from our contact lists attended that training. We have had no requests for stream monitoring field trips in 2013.

Our intention is to plan more targeted outreach to middle school teachers this winter in partnership with the Rock River Coalition, in hopes of increasing interest next year in the equipment, training and naturalist support available to teachers in the district and the Pheasant Branch Watershed.

It is our understanding that we have until April of 2015 to use all of the $800 the DCEC awarded for naturalists support with these anticipated stream monitoring field trips. Please let us know if this is inaccurate.

Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,
Colleen Robinson Klug
Education Coordinator
education@pheasantbranch.org
608-767-2394

View promotional information sent to contacts for the August training.
View a PDF file of this report.
Visit Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy website at pheasantbranch.org


Project Title: Burning Brush

Contact Information: Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Susan Gruber, 2800 Tomahawk Ct., Middleton, WI 53562, sgruber42@gmail.com

Statement of Need: The Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy are committed to arranging for spring prairie burns for 4-5 successive years to manage non-native woody invasives. To prepare for the professionally-managed burns, volunteers and summer interns cut and stack brush piles for winter burning. In the past, volunteers have provided rakes. In the interest of safety and efficiency, fire resistant rakes are needed.

Project Goals and Objectives:
Project Goal: Manage natural areas by removing non-native trees and brush from the prairies, the oak savanna, the conservancy boundary, and along fire breaks.

  • Objective 1: Obtain leaf blowers and rakes for burning brush piles.
  • Objective 2: Summer interns clear trees and brush in designated areas, as specified by Dane County staff (5 interns, 8 hours each)
  • Objective 3: Volunteers use loppers to cut brush during the summer and fall, following-up the interns’ work. (At least 3 workdays/month)
  • Objective 4: Volunteers pile cut brush for burning
  • Objective 5: Experienced volunteers burn the brush piles during the winter, using blowers and rakes.

This goal is directly related to the “DCEC mission to assist public and private groups in recognizing and protecting natural areas in Dane County; to assume an educational role in the protection of the environmental and natural resources; and in general to promote awareness, conservation, and preservation of Dane County’s natural resources.”

Work Accomplished: During the interns’ summer workdays, we used the rakes to burn piles of brush in preparation of a gully restoration project. Near the end of the summer, volunteers and interns piled brush at the homestead site, but we were not able to burn it because of the drought. This fall, volunteers have continued to continue to cut and stack woody invasives in preparation for burning during the winter. From the start of the grant until October 13, 800 volunteers and 5 summer interns have contributed about 3000 hours to removing invasive shrubs and trees.

Outcomes and Impacts of the Project: By burning brush piles in a safe way, we are able to teach interns and volunteers the importance of clearing invasive plants. Burning the piles prior to burning the prairies and oak savanna in the spring will enable us to have a better burn and and reduce its cost so our dollars can go farther.

Sustainability: These rakes are durable and will be able to be used over many years by both the FOPBC and other groups as needed. They are noted for their strength and durability as they are constructed of 4130 aircraft alloy steel that is heat treated and tempered. With the Friends’ ongoing volunteer program and summer interns, we will have many opportunities to use the rakes.

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Thank you for your grant of $360.00 to develop, print, and distribute a brochure to recruit participants in our restoration activities – specifically the new Adopt-A-Plot program in the Dane County Unit of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. I’m attaching a copy. A former high school volunteer who has moved back to the area worked with our Restoration and Management Committee to create the brochure. It’s awesome!

The brochure is an important tool in recruiting volunteers. It includes contact information and refers readers to the Friends’ website, www.pheasantbranch.org, for more information. We have distributed it at public events and to groups that inquire about stewardship opportunities. In August, we mailed it to all residents in neighborhoods along the east side of the Conservancy to invite them to learn about restoration activities. On Sept. 13, we kicked off the fall with a public program about the area and volunteer opportunities. (The invitation that was mailed with the brochure is attached also.)

This year we have had quite a few new volunteers. Some area organizations have contacted us about our workdays, and they have recruited their members to join us on a designated day. This summer, we sponsored an intern as part of the Prairie Partners program, a consortium of 5 environmental groups. Each Wednesday, the five interns worked with restoration volunteers at the conservancy under the direction of Dane County Parks staff. This provided lots of opportunities for developing our volunteer base. To date, we haven’t found individuals who can take on leadership roles – but we’re optimistic that will come as volunteers get more experience. We are also pleased that 3 high school students are now part of our regular volunteers – two who attended every Wednesday through the summer, and one who participated in most weekend workdays.

With our participation in the intern program and the volunteer activities that grew with it, the conservancy is looking great – though there’s always more to do. The volunteers have a refined understanding of the need to manage conservancy lands and how community volunteers can help to preserve and sustain them.

Through the summer and fall, we have logged a total of 2,650 volunteer hours on restoration activities, substantially more than other years. In addition, two areas of the Conservancy were added to the Adopt-A-Plot program. We’re looking forward to building on this base in coming years – and to adapting the brochure with each new year. Thanks for your help in getting it started!

Susan Gruber
Restoration and Management Committee Co-Chair
Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy

View a PDF file of the brochure.

Visit Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy website at pheasantbranch.org