Native plant enthusiasts sought to see how state’s rare treasures are faring
MADISON — People who enjoy looking for plants can see some of the state’s rarest and most beautiful native species up close in 2018 by participating in volunteer training for the Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program in coming weeks.
Josh Mayer, a volunteer for the Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program, found a new population of narrow-leaved dayflower, a rare native plant, in Grant County in 2017. Photo credit: Josh Mayer
“If you already enjoy searching for rare plants or “botanizing,” we invite you to put your effort to a direct conservation benefit,” says Kevin Doyle, a Department of Natural Resources conservation botanist who coordinates the volunteer program. “Our volunteers get to see rare plants in some of the state’s most pristine places and their contributions are critical to native plant conservation in Wisconsin.”
The volunteer training is free and occurs at four sites across the state: in Juneau County on March 17, Eau Claire County on March 22, Sauk County on March 31, and Racine County on April 7. Find training session details and register on the Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program (exit DNR) web page.
The information volunteers collect help DNR conservation botanists assess plant population trends for state and national conservation efforts. Wisconsin has more than 2,300 native plant species and 344 of them are listed as endangered, threatened or species of concern due to low or declining populations.
The Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program is one of more than a dozen citizen-based monitoring programs coordinated by DNR’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program to help assess populations of rare species and care for State Natural Areas. Since the Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program started the volunteer training in 2013, more than 240 volunteers have taken the training and played an important role in assessing plant populations.
“Rare Plant Monitoring Program volunteers took things to new heights in 2017,” Doyle says. “Nearly 80 new people were trained and volunteers nearly tripled the number of rare plant assessments we got done. We hope 2018 will be another great year and we invite plant enthusiasts to join our growing team.”