Madison, WI – On Thursday, November 5, wetland enthusiasts from around Wisconsin will gather to recognize individuals whose work advances the protection, restoration, and enjoyment of Wisconsin’s wetlands at Wisconsin Wetlands Association’s (WWA) 2015 Annual Wetlands Awards Celebration.
A collective of individuals and organizations working for the wetlands of the Bad River Watershed are being recognized for their work promoting the importance of wetlands in protecting the Bad River Watershed, a watershed that includes the Bad River/Kakaogon Sloughs Estuary, and the Penokee Hills, an area recently considered for a controversial iron mine development. The efforts of the 2015 awards winners show how high quality wetland protection and care can happen in a working landscape. The Wetland Leaders in the Bad River Watershed include William Heart, the Bad River Tribal Environmental Program, the Bad River Watershed Association, John Coleman and Dawn White of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission Environmental Section, and Jim Meeker (posthumously) and Joan Elias.
William Heart, an active fly fisherman and Trout Unlimited leader, has advocated for the importance of this area as a trout fishery, has been involved in years of field work in the wetlands of this watershed, and has been instrumental in organizing and helping others protect and care for the wetland resources of the Bad River Watershed.
The Bad River Tribal Natural Resources Program provides the science-based support needed to protect and care for the cultural and ecological resources of the region’s wetlands. Their work in the Bad River Watershed includes the development of a written water code to ensure the quality and quantity of Reservation waters, a wetland assessment and monitoring program, and extensive studies and management actions maintaining the health of the wild rice, fish, wildlife, and cultural resources in the Bad River/Kakagon Sloughs Estuary. Their efforts resulted in the sloughs’ designation as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
John Colemen and Dawn White of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission Environmental Section – GLIFWC staff have been instrumental in extensively refining wetland and water resources mapping capabilities in the Upper Bad River Watershed. Their detailed work has identified and called attention to a large amount of wetlands and streams in the watershed that had previously been unmapped or unknown.
The Bad River Watershed Association has developed a citizen-science based water monitoring program documenting the baseline conditions of the water resources throughout the watershed. They have conducted tours and presentations to hundreds of individuals explaining the importance of the region’s wetlands to the health of the entire watershed.
Jim Meeker and Joan Elias – For decades, Jim and Joan have been involved in the monitoring, assessment, protection, and management of the wetlands of the Bad River Watershed in partnership with the Bad River Tribe. As a wetland scientist at Northland College, Jim published peer-reviewed hydrologic and wild rice studies conducted in the Bad River/Kakogon Sloughs Estuary, contributing greatly to the proper management of this area. In partnership with GLIFWC, Jim and Joan published a guide to the plants used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa, including many wetland plants. Jim passed away suddenly in December of 2014.
“We know there are many wetland crusaders whose good deeds have not been adequately recognized,” said Tracy Hames, WWA’s Executive Director. “Our Wetlands Awards are intended to help us thank a few of them and bring recognition to the wetland resources they promote as well.”
The Wetlands Awards Celebration will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum Visitor Center, November 5, from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Tickets are available for this event and can be purchased by visiting WWA’s website http://wisconsinwetlands.org/awards.htm or calling 608-250-9971. The evening will also include a silent auction, buffet, desserts, and a cash bar.
The other winner of the 2015 Wetlands Awards is Travis Olson of the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.
“Wetlands play an important role in both the ecology and economy of Wisconsin. We hope that our Awards will help Wisconsinites appreciate and understand the value of our state’s wetland heritage, an important step toward ensuring protection for all of our wetlands,” Hames said.
Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and enjoyment of wetlands and associated ecosystems through science-based programs, education and advocacy. Its more than 1,700 members include wetland experts, natural resource professionals, conservationists, hunters and anglers, educators, concerned citizens, and local and regional organizations. Visit WWA online at www.wisconsinwetlands.org.