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To form an alliance of concerned citizens, landowners, and public and private organizations to protect and improve the water quality and natural habitats in the Ulao Creek Watershed.
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By Ginny Plumeau - Environmental Consultant

The River Protection Grant was awarded in June 2000, and will be completed in the Fall 2002. The purpose of the River Protection Grant Program is to foster and support partnerships between groups dedicated to the protection of creek and river systems, the DNR, university and extension service systems, local units of governments and organizations.

This project had three main objectives: To collect baseline information necessary to understand the existing hydrology and vegetation of the Ulao Swamp at the headwaters of Ulao Creek, to initiate small scale, restoration demonstration projects for woody species that will be established, maintained, and monitored by the local community with coordination by the Ulao Creek Partnership, and to gather Species at Risk (SAR) status information, including trends relative to species abundance and distribution in relation to certain habitat conditions.

The survey work, led by Noel Cutright, Terrestrial Ecologist with Wisconsin Electric, and by Gary Casper, Herpetologist with the Milwaukee Public Museum, has been completed. The information collected is being compiled and evaluated for inclusion in the Land Use Plan, now in preparation. It contains a summary of the data collected, the results of the surveys, the significance of the findings, and suggestions for land use management.

During the initial stages of the grant project, the Ulao Creek Partnership announced the project, assembled survey team members, and developed appropriate protocols to meet the objectives. The first-year work involved conducting surveys of the flora and fauna of the Ulao Swamp and the Ulao Creek corridor; planning forest restoration plots for demonstration purposes; and hosting informational and training opportunities to encourage wide public participation and educational outreach to college students, schoolchildren, families, landowners and policy makers. The Partnership contacted landowners in the swamp and creek corridor to inform them about the River Protection Grant, the survey objectives, and long-term benefits of the project.

The Ulao Creek Partnership encouraged volunteer involvement for the project through a number of outreach venues. These included local newspaper special interest stories, newsletter articles of the Land Trust and Ozaukee County Land & Water Conservation Department, a booth at the Ozaukee County Fair in 2001 and 2002; direct mailings to interested landowners and citizens, and announcements to conservation organizations. An Open House and informational meeting was held in May 2001 in the Town of Grafton. A number of family-oriented, hands-on demonstrations were presented, and over 100 people attended. Tom Dueppen made a presentation about the Ulao Creek Partnership and its work under the River Protection Grant at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Association of Land Conservation Employees (WALCE) in February 2002.

Outdoor Wisconsin aired several segments on public television about the work under the River Protection Grant. The shows featured speakers talking about the Partnership and various aspects of the vegetation, bird, reptile and amphibian surveys, stream monitoring activities, children’s educational programs, as well as volunteer and technical partner involvement. A brochure, Flora and Fauna of the Ulao Creek Watershed, was produced for distribution to landowners at the Ozaukee County Fair and at the Open House.

The Ulao Creek Partnership also worked with local area high school and middle school science teachers to design ways for their school groups and classes to have meaningful involvement in both the creation and monitoring of restorations. Concordia University provided great local support by involving their Ecology and Zoology classes. Carroll College and UW – Milwaukee (UWM) also had a number of interested students who volunteered, especially with the animal survey work.

Some of the activities conducted under the grant project included: the vegetation of the Ulao Swamp was evaluated by Jill Hewitt in her Masters Thesis “Vegetation of the Ulao Swamp, A Hardwood-Conifer Swamp in Southeastern Wisconsin”, (UWM, 2002) (See article), a herptile survey with a special focus on the Wisconsin Electric landfill area, since the state-threatened Butler’s Garter Snake was captured there, and several tree planting days.

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