Productive and healthy woodlands are important to the Northwoods. Many residents and visitors would like to know more about how to manage the lands under their control for a variety of wildlife species, but may not know where to turn. The Wisconsin Coverts Project has worked for years to help those people better understand their role and opportunities in that management.
According to those in the project, the word covert is “a 14th century English word describing a dense thicket that provides shelter for wildlife.” The Wisconsin Coverts Project promotes woodland wildlife stewardship. They are holding a three-day Coverts Workshop in Woodruff on Aug. 13-16, at Kemp Station. The Kemp Station, with its 135 acres of some of the last old-growth forests in the Lakes States, creates a perfect home for the workshop, which has been held in various locations over the last two-plus decades. The station, according to the Project, “provides opportunities for natural resources research, instruction and outreach amidst the lakes and forests of Northern Wisconsin.” Attendees will stay in a lodge overlooking Lake Tomahawk and also benefit from the state-of-the-art equipment in the boathouse at the station.
A typical workshop agenda can be found on the Forest and Wildlife Ecology page of the UW website: forestandwildlifeecology.wisc.edu/coverts. Some of the previous sessions have been “Principles of Wildlife Management,” “Management for Ruffed Grouse,” “Large Carnivore Management in WI,” and “How to Conduct a Successful Timber Sale.” Other sessions have covered songbird management in forests, a wildlife inventory and monitoring workshop as well as wildlife damage management. Creating a written wildlife management plan has also been on tap in recent years.
The 2020 workshop will welcome the next cohort of Coverts Cooperators. Land owners looking to manage their lands, or lands for which they are responsible, for a variety of wildlife are encouraged to attend.
The three-day workshop provides attendees with direction and skills to undertake projects to enhance wildlife abundance, as well as diversity, on their lands. Attendees will start by learning how land management can make a difference. From there, ways to improve habitat to achieve those goals are taught and explained. Land owners will also be provided with contact information for woodland management needs as well as resources such as websites and publications, to help them manage their woodlands. Contacts will include individuals from a wide range of entities including private, state, and university specialists in not only forestry, but wildlife disciplines as well.
What is asked from the next cohort of Covert Cooperators it to share what they have learned with others. Cooperators agree to also develop a plan for woodland wildlife on their own land, as well as to reach out to others about possibilities on their lands. They also agree to share any other resources provided by the Wisconsin Covert Project.
Since the program’s inception in 1994, 770 cooperators have attended 30 workshops, representing 647 properties in the state. Past attendees, known as cooperators, are responsible for managing 528,511 acres of land. Of those acres in Wisconsin and across the Midwest, 165,000 are industrial forests, 60,000 are owned by the U.S. Army and 80,000 by the BCPL, or Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.
Those who attended the first 29 workshops and pledged to pass on the information they learned in their communities have reached more than 14,000 other land owners. Those secondary landowners account for approximately 530,00 acres of land in Wisconsin. Through the 25 years of the program, the impact on the landscape is estimated to be over 1 million acres.
Any woodland owner or other person responsible for managing wooded land in Wisconsin (or the Midwest) is eligible to apply to the program. The Covert Project is mostly interested in those people with the ability to influence their community or participate in outreach efforts, so there is no minimum acreage to apply to attend.
Those interested in learning more about the Wisconsin Coverts Project, and applying, or nominating another to the workshop, can find more information on the Project website http://few.wisc.edu/coverts. Information regarding past workshop agendas can also be found on the website. Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at [email protected].