Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mike Soergel is 2007 Wildlife Technician of the Year for DNR

Mike Soergel of Baldwin has been recognized as the 2007 Wildlife Technician of the Year at the annual statewide Wildlife meeting of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held in Madison two weeks ago.

According to John Dunn, Area Wildlife Supervisor with the Wisconsin DNR in Eau Claire, "Mike beat out some stiff competition from other Wildlife Technicians from around the state" who had also been nominated by their superiors.

Dunn said Soergel has been the Wildlife Technician in Baldwin for the past 14 years and "over that period has continuously shown a positive 'can do' attitude in his job responsibilities. Specifically, Mike was recognized for his leading role in warm season grass plantings, his top notch prescribed burning program, his aggressive approach towards exotic and invasive plant control, his wetland restoration activities and his ability to partner with other organizations and agencies."

Soergel said after the award that "I was very surprised and honored," to be nominated and to receive it.

Soergel has been Wildlife Technician in Baldwin for 14 years, and before that he was a limited time employee of the DNR for five years in the Janesville area.

During his time as Wildlife Technician Soergel has been involved with Pheasant Forever Chapters, securing land, often with funds from Knowles/Nelson Stewardship Grants which is then donated to the Wisconsin DNR as public land and carrying out prairie plantings.

"I'd like to brag we're the reason there are so many pheasants around," commented Soergel, but the recent mild winters probably has as much to do with it, he said.

In a tribute given to Soergel when his award was presented, it was noted that "following his passion and commitment for his wife and family, is his love of grasslands and the wildlife they produce. He has played a lead role in planning and carrying out prairie plantings on our public
lands. Plus, the two counties in which he works have some of the highest acreages of CRP grass, thanks in part to his efforts with the private lands program to get the grass planted and burned."

In the burning of grassland lands Soergel "has played a leading role improving communications with the local county dispatch and fire departments that minimize unnecessary fire calls. He's worked with local fire departments giving advice on custom-building burn rigs and encouraging them to conduct prescribed burns on private lands. For several years he's been the primary burn boss and has carried out those duties conscientiously, safely and efficiently. The limited time employees claim he's the best burn boss they've ever worked with."

The tribute went on to note that Soergel's love for grasslands "is equaled by his dislike for invasive and exotic plants. His mantra against invasives is 'better living through chemicals.' He has tried various techniques on his own and has also developed good working relationships with other experts to try to fine-tune his invasives strategies. In 2006, he organized an invasives workshop attended by DNR, US Fish and Wildlife, and Pheasants Forever staff from several counties.

Soergel's tribute concluded that "there are strong indicators of a person possessed with the wildlife passion. This person is Mike Soergel, our 2007 Wildlife Technician of the Year. We fully anticipate his continued excellence in our beloved profession. Not only is he a dedicated professional, he's an all-around great guy. Mike's dedication to the resource is unquestioned and he is deserving of this special recognition from the Wildlife Management program and from his colleagues."