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Monday, January 29 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
SYMPOSIA-04: Strategic Prioritization of Grassland Habitat Types in Wisconsin

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AUTHORS. Matt Zine, Ryan O'Connor, Armund Bartz, Andy Paulios, Bill Hogseth, Sara Kehrli, Craig Anderson - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Kelly Van Beek, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. Grassland management is important for many species statewide in Wisconsin. Recent research shows that scale, geospatial information, and plant diversity can affect the productivity of grasslands. The importance of grasslands and their management is recognized as a high priority for the WDNR and its partners. Due to high workload and dwindling resources, the WDNR made an effort to strategically allocate resources for grassland management and other associated habitat types (e.g. savannas, sedge meadows, etc.). Our goal was to develop conservation decision making guidance facilitating allocation of statewide resources towards these habitats and develop a tool to prioritize specific DNR-owned properties. Our team developed separate prioritization processes for “Natural Community Management Objectives” and “Surrogate Grassland Management Objectives”. Recognizing concentrations of rare species and high-quality natural communities are one of the drivers of natural community management, we used existing data on rare species locations as the foundation of the analysis for prioritizing natural community management objectives. We used the rare species strongly associated with barrens, prairies, oak savannas, and fire-dependent wetlands, based on the rare species and natural community association scores found in the Wildlife Action Plan. Knowing that some areas of the state have not been thoroughly surveyed for rare species, we also used the 2016 Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) point count data. For prioritizing surrogate, or planted, grassland management objectives, we assigned rankings to specific features within several GIS spatial datasets based on a scoring system that applied information from conservation plans, previous prioritization efforts, and recreation management data such as pheasant management areas, Wisconsin Joint Venture townships, and priority grassland bird landscapes. We summed rankings and overlaid a single dataset across state public lands to identify properties where surrogate grasslands are achieving multiple objectives.

Monday January 29, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm CST