Conservation

Join Us in Restoring Our Land!

If you’d like to spend time outdoors helping to conserve and restore our diverse landscape, consider becoming a land volunteer this season. Two very large habitat restoration efforts are underway and we’ll be planting 50,000 native seedlings, shrubs, and trees through fall. This is an opportunity to have a lasting effect on our land for generations to come.

Volunteer Land Stewards and staff members are working on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:00am – 12:00pm to restore habitat in our Stormwater Wetland & North Ravine Restoration Project and the Hardwood Swamp Restoration Project areas. Volunteers choose what schedule works for them and no experience is necessary.

Stormwater Wetland and Ravine Restoration

As we continue to restore our Stormwater Wetland and Ravine Restoration Project area this summer, we will plant 7,000-8,000 herbaceous plugs on the west berm. We are looking for volunteers to help plant a wide variety of native species that will provide continuously flowering plants, including those that are essential to many pollinator species.

In fall, staff and volunteers will plant 300 remaining trees and shrubs in this project area, including bur oak, hackberry, and sugar maple. Shrubs include pasture rose, winterberry, elderberry, and meadowsweet. Together, these trees and shrubs will provide nesting habitat, cover, and food for many bird species, leaf litter used as overwintering habitat for several bumblebee species, as well as vital spring flowers for pollinator foraging. We are looking for a sizable number of volunteers to help restore this area to improve habitat quality, climate resiliency, and reduce stormwater runoff and soil erosion in the project area.

Hardwood Swamp Restoration

Our Hardwood Swamp area is the only ecological community of its kind on our property and is not commonly found in the urban landscape of Milwaukee County. Because of its proximity to our West Meadows Loop, restoration of this area will provide education access to this diverse wetland community. Hardwood Swamp restoration planting will take place this fall.

Schlitz Audubon staff and volunteers will plant 715 trees to replace the dying ash that currently dominate the forest canopy within the project area. All trees will be species that are well adapted to the site and traditionally found in hardwood swamps. Target tree species include swamp white oak, bur oak, and American sycamore. We will also plant 250 shrubs, including silky dogwood, winterberry, and elderberry. These shrubs, in addition to those currently in the area, will give the desired shrub cover that is typical of hardwood swamps.

In addition to the trees and shrubs, staff and volunteers will plant 27,200 herbaceous plugs. The restored understory will support many pollinator species, including the federally endangered rusty patched bumblebee and as well as monarch butterfly. It will also provide food, cover, and breeding habitat for migratory birds, including Wood Thrush, Wilson’s Warbler and American Woodcock, which are species of special concern in Wisconsin.

Two-and-a-quarter pounds of sedge meadow seed mix will then be spread throughout the project area. This will be a cost-effective way to supplement the herbaceous plugs and add to the overall diversity.

Become a Volunteer

These are drop-in opportunities, so you volunteer when it works for you. Ongoing training will be provided by the Center’s conservation staff. Volunteers are asked to dress for the weather, wearing thick, long pants, sturdy shoes or boots, and clothes and shoes that can get dirty. Safety guidelines will be followed, including working in small groups, practicing physical distancing, and wearing masks or cloth face coverings when physical distancing cannot be observed.

If you are interested in this volunteer opportunity, please contact Marie Honel, Volunteer Coordinator, to learn how you can become a Volunteer Land Steward at Schlitz Audubon!