Terrell's Island Restoration Project
In 1998, the Butte des Morts Conservation Club, with the assistance of public contributions, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource grant programs, purchased 1183 acres of this habitat known as Terrell's Island and placed it in 'public trust' for perpetuity. In 2010 we added 18 acres bringing the total acreage of Terrell's Island to 1201.
This wetland area has all of the basic ingredients necessary to rebuild and restore a healthy and productive wildlife habitat and spawning grounds for a vast variety of marine life. The long term commitment by the Butte des Morts Conservation Club to Conserve, Preserve, and Restore the habitat of Terrell's Island is the primary focus of the club's efforts on Lake Butte des Morts.
Terrell's Island is open to the public and offers a variety of educational and recreational opportunities. It is the goal of the BDMCC to apply CPR to this habitat so that it will continue to provide these and many other opportunities for our generation and generations to come.
Many endangered and threatened water birds, such as the endangered common tern, typically nest on barren islands or remote beaches to avoid mammalian predators, including people. There is one such site on Lake Butte des Morts on property owned by the Butte des Morts Conservation Club. It is an island in Samers Bay about ¼ mile south of the Terrell’s Island peninsula. This island was formerly just a small rock pile only a few feet in diameter. In 2006, the club teamed up with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Lower Fox River Green Bay Natural Resource Trustee Council to rebuild the island with a 30 x 40 foot rock base topped with sand; ideal nesting habitat for common terns. This island brought nesting common terns back to Winnebago County, and they have nested there with varying degrees of success ever since.
“Varying degrees of success” of course means the birds have occasionally encountered problems on the island. These include vandalism, crowding by pelicans and cormorants, and predation from mink and owls (at least one mink once swam ¼ mile out to the island). Even a little vegetative growth at the start of the nesting season will cause the birds to look elsewhere for a more suitable nest site.
All of this means fairly specific management. In the case of the common tern island, that means annually installing and removing fencing around the perimeter of the island to keep out larger water birds such as pelicans and cormorants, and mammalian predators such as mink and otters. It also includes manipulating vegetation, and installing signage advising people to stay off the island during the nesting season from April through July. In the end, however, the sight of young common terns on the wing (indicating a successful hatch) is well worth the effort.
Purple Loosestrife Control
Purple loosestrife is a beautiful woody perennial plant that was brought from Europe by gardeners in the 1800s. It escaped from gardens and established itself in Wisconsin wetlands in the 1930s. With no predators to keep it in check, it quickly became invasive, pushing out native plant species to become the only show in town. By eliminating native plants, it removes sources of food and shelter for wetland animals, insects and waterfowl. Some species may disappear entirely. Hunting, fishing, trapping, bird watching and boat travel become impossible. A purple loosestrife-filled wetland does not filter and store water like a wetland that consists of a variety of native plants.
Purple loosestrife grows two to seven feet tall and from July through October displays tiny. bright purple flowers closely attached to four-sided spiky stems. Some plants have up to fifty stems, making for a bushy look. Young plants produce 100,000–300,000 tiny seeds per year while older plants can produce 2.5 million. Plants often grow in intertwined clumps and the below-ground root mass of each plant can extend several feet.
After 70 years of uncontrolled invasion and many years of testing, an insect called the galerucella beetle was imported from Europe to control purple loosestrife. Wisconsin DNR began a program of raising and releasing the beetles in 1994. In the early 2000s, Butte des Morts Conservation Club members worked with students from UW-Oshkosh and the Boy Scouts to raise and release these beetles on Terrell’s Island. Almost 20 years later, the project can be considered a success!
You might ask how it can be considered a success since you will still see plenty of purple loosestrife while hiking the Terrell’s Island trails. If you look closely though, you will also see tiny 1/8-inch galerucella larvae and beetles crawling on the plants. Many of the leaves are full of holes or completely withered causing them to fail to flower or to die. The goal isn’t to entirely eradicate purple loosestrife which would be unrealistic anyway, but rather to keep it from being the only species in the marsh. And we actually don’t want it all to die out. If it did, the beetles would also die for lack of food, leaving the marsh ripe for another purple loosestrife invasion should a seed or root piece survive.
Below are items that the BDMCC is in need of:
Donations to the Club can be earmarked specifically for these items and projects that are part of the Schoolhouse and Terrell's Island as a whole:
- Security Camera Equipment for the Parking Lot
- Audio/ Visual Equipment
- Interactive Smart Board
- Spotting Scopes with tripods
- Any needed Lawn or grounds equipment
example- wood chipper
- Educational Teaching Kits
- Lawn Mower
- Blacktop parking lot
- Maintenance Costs of Terrell's Island ($600/month)