Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory


Registration is now open for the first-ever Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit. 

The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory is the host of the two-day summit. The event will take place November 3-4, 2017, at beautiful Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, the Observatory’s headquarters.

Complete details, registration materials, directions, and links to local lodging and dining options are available on the Observatory’s website.

According to William Mueller, the Observatory’s director, the conference is being designed “to foster regional collaboration by providing an introduction to the people who are conducting excellent ecological work in southeastern Wisconsin.”

A major focus, he says, will be biodiversity and conservation in the Milwaukee Estuary. The region includes severely polluted portions of the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers, as well as Milwaukee’s inner and outer harbor and the near-shore waters of Lake Michigan. The estuary was named a federal Area of Concern in a 1987 agreement between the United States and Canada.

Steps taken to restore the river basin since 1987 have included the removal of Milwaukee’s North Avenue dam in 1997, the dredging of the Kinnickinnic River in 2009, and the cleanup of Lincoln Creek and the Milwaukee River, still under way.  

Speakers at the November summit will add to the restoration story, describing the status and health of the area’s mussels and burrowing crayfish, dragonflies and damselflies, mammals (especially bats), and breeding and migratory birds.  

Christine Custer, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, will present results of her testing of Tree Swallows that nest throughout the estuary. The familiar blue and white bird’s preferred food, aquatic insects, allow contaminants to move from river sediment into terrestrial food chains.

Other speakers will address restoration work in Milwaukee’s Grant Park; historic changes in populations of Black Terns; preservation of the Root-Pike and Nippersink Creek Watersheds; the mapping of oak ecosystems in southeastern Wisconsin; birds’ use of Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area, in Ozaukee County; the extraordinary dragonflies of Forest Beach Migratory Preserve; and other topics.  

Information about research, monitoring, ecological restoration, and conservation will also be presented during a poster session.

The Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit is open to the public.

Sponsors include the James E. Dutton Foundation, Inc., with co-sponsorship by Milwaukee County Parks, Ozaukee County Planning and Parks, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, the Urban Ecology Center, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Thanks to the Dutton Foundation's generosity, the cost of registering is only $20. The registration fee includes morning coffee, afternoon refreshments, and lunch on both days, as well as access to all oral presentations and the poster sessions.