Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR a resting, nesting, feeding and wintering oasis

Refuge’s restoration projects support butterflies, birds and Blanding’s turtles, among other residents

With nearly 44,000 acres of terrain, Wisconsin’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is home to all manner of unique and threatened critters—Blanding’s turtles, northern long-eared bats, rusty patched bumblebees, ringed boghaunter dragonflies.

Not to mention a tiny, spectacular cerulean resident that lives in central Wisconsin year round.

“We’ve got the world’s largest population of the Karner blue butterfly, which is a federally endangered species,” says Leann Wilkins, acting manager of the Necedah NWR. “In 2015, we had just under 12,400 Karner blue butterflies. They’re localized here, and don’t migrate, because their lifecycle depends on the wild lupine.

“It’s amazing how well these things are timed,” adds Wilkins. “The adults emerge just as the lupine bloom in May. They’re alive just long enough to mate and lay eggs of another generation that emerges in late July and August, and that generation lays the eggs that will overwinter and hatch the following spring.”

Because of Necedah NWR’s size and variety of habitats—oak savanna, barrens, prairie, sedge meadows and wetlands—the refuge’s caretakers focus on restorations that support endangered and threatened species.

Necedah NWR provides a resting, nesting and feeding habitat for more than 110 species of migratory birds, and also acts as a home for three species of amphibians, 14 types of reptiles and more than 40 species of butterfly. Necedah NWR has also hosted reintroductions of Canada geese (1939), wild turkey (1952), mallards (1960), trumpeter swans (1994) and, currently, whooping cranes.

“We really do have an opportunity to make a substantial impact on population levels of various species,” says Wilkins, “and that includes state threatened plant life, like dwarf milkweed of the oak savannas and woolly milkweed of the prairies.”

In 2015, Enbridge became the first corporate partner for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) National Wildlife Refuge Friends program, which offers funding for NWR Friends groups—volunteers that play a key role in conserving natural resources identified for protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This year, Enbridge awarded grants totaling more than $74,000 to Friends groups near our projects and operations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas and New York State.

That includes a $15,000 donation to the Friends of Necedah NWR, for the replacement of a fully accessible fishing and viewing platform at Goose Pool, with improved access and more parking. The new platform is expected to be in place by June 2018.

“We’re right on the Mississippi Flyway, so this will give more people a chance to see migratory birds, and do some kayaking and fishing at the same time,” says Wilkins.

“We do regular outreach with school groups and senior organizations, and we hope this project will help more people understand the need to preserve and protect our natural resources.”