For Antigo Times
Landowners can once again enter a lottery to obtain a free customized report from Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation program to discover what unique plants and animals may live on their land.
This time, people who previously entered the lottery but were not selected in 2014 or 2015 will get preference points that improve their chances of being selected in 2016.
“We had such a tremendous response from landowners last year that we’re going to do it again,” says Erin Crain, deputy director of the DNR Division of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “We had more than seven times as many entrants last year as we had available slots, so we’re running another lottery to try to meet the demand.”
The lottery runs from Dec. 15, 2015, until Jan. 15, 2016, and 100 landowners who voluntarily enter their name will be randomly selected to receive the customized report, known as a Landowner Conservation Report. Those landowners whose names are drawn also will have the option of a free site visit from a department biologist.
Applicants will receive one point for each year they have entered a landowner lottery and were not selected. Each point will earn an additional entry into the 2016 lottery. Those previously selected can register again for different properties but will not receive preference points.
Landowner: “This was one of the best gifts my land has ever been given.”
More than 750 private landowners from almost every county in the state representing more than 66,000 acres entered the 2015 lottery, according to Alex Wenthe, the DNR conservation biologist leading the Landowner Conservation Report program. Of the 100 selected landowners, 88 chose to have a site visit from a department biologist.
“People love their land and are really interested in learning what plants and animals call it home,” Wenthe says. “One of the selected landowners who chose to have a site visit wrote us, “This was one of the best gifts my land has ever been given.”
Wenthe says what landowners do with the information from their customized report is up to them but “we hope they will consider ways to maintain and improve habitat for Wisconsin’s rare species.”
With 85 percent of land in Wisconsin privately owned, having good habitat on private land is critical to conserving rare plants and animals, he says.
To create the reports, Wenthe reviews various DNR and federal databases containing information about the rare plants and animals found through field surveys of public lands or nongovernmental organization lands. Normally, Wisconsin law requires DNR to charge for such searches, but a private donation to the Natural Heritage Conservation program is covering the cost of the searches for the 100 Landowner Conservation Reports.
These reports provide landowners information about rare species found in the area, invasive species to be on the lookout for and general information about the soils, geology and hydrogeology in the area.
Information collected during the review process will not affect what landowners can subsequently do with their property.
The report also contains general recommendations on improving habitat and controlling invasive species, information on where landowners can get technical and financial help for habitat work, and a list of private contractors who can help landowners develop detailed conservation plans and assessments.
Contact Alex Wenthe, DNR ecologist, 608-267-7758