Tuesday, December 25, 2007

New National Honor Society Members Inducted at Baldwin-Woodville High School

At an induction ceremony held Wednesday, December 19, new members were inducted into the Baldwin-Woodville Chapter of the National Honor Society.

The new members are pictured above. In the front row, left to right, are: Ellen Hawley, Kya Grafenstein, Elisa Folden, William Doornink, David Ring, Alex Buechter, Michelle Johnson, Morgan Jacobson, Kris Eggen and Pella Borh. In the back row, left to right, are: Leanne Terpstra, Rachelle Veenstra, Kayla Wagner, Ian Schoenke, Dan Ramberg, Jennifer Holle, Daniel Peterson and Tyler Klund.

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."

Baldwin Set for "Tree City" Status

Dead of Winter. A foot of snow or more on the ground. The shortest days of the year. Temperatures rarely or never above freezing and more likely closer to zero.

No one thinks about trees and the greenery of summer in winter? Well, almost no one.

The Baldwin Village Board, under the prompting of Village Public Works Director John Traxler, has taken action that will hopefully result in Baldwin being designated as a "Tree City USA" under a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources program.

What is an "urban forest"?

According to the DNR, "It is all of the trees and other vegetation in and around a town, village or city. Traditionally it has referred to tree-lined streets, but an urban forest also includes trees in home landscapes, school yards, parks, riverbanks, cemeteries, vacant lots, utility rights-of-way, adjacent woodlands and anywhere else trees can grow in and around a community of any size. [Emphasis in original.] Shrubs, flowers, vines, ground covers, grass, and a variety of wild plants and animals are also part of the urban forest. Streets, sidewalks, buildings, utilities soil, topography and, most importantly, people are an integral part of the urban forest. The urban forest is, in fact, an ecosystem."

According to Traxler, all the groundwork has been laid for Baldwin's designation by the DNR as a "Tree City USA. "We have met the criteria and need to finish filling out the paperwork and send it in," said Traxler. "It's just a formality."

At the Board's December meeting, Trustees agreed to amendments to an earlier draft of a village ordinance titled "Trees and Shrubs" and passed the provision. That ordinance states its purpose as "to establish policy for the control of planting, removal, maintenance and protection of trees and shrubs in or upon all public areas and boulevard areas of the Village to eliminate and guard against dangerous conditions which may result in injury to persons using the streets, alleys, sidewalks or other public areas; to promote an enhance the beauty and general welfare of the Village; to prohibit the undesirable and unsafe planting, removal, treatment and maintenance of trees and shrubs located in public areas; and to guard all trees and shrubs both public and private within the Village against the spread of disease, insects or pests."

The ordinance and designation as a "Tree City" "is just saying that the community is trying to green up and beautify and to take care of trees," said Traxler.

He said another important aspect of designation as a "Tree City" is public awareness involving care for trees, removal and pruning.

The benefits of trees are more than just aesthetic. According to information from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the presence of trees may increase property values, if strategically placed can cut summer air conditioning costs and can intercept storm sewer runoff.

A large portion of the village's new ordinance is devoted to types of trees that will be required in "public places," particularly by developers for a new subdivision. "The ordinance specifies what we expect from developers," said Traxler. He noted that two trees of the same genus are prohibited from being planted next to each other. Among the genus of trees that are allowed for in the ordinance are: maples, oaks, birches, honey locusts, elms and miscellaneous trees of other genus.

One aspect of the "Tree City" designation is an inventory of existing trees that are considered "public", or in parks or along a boulevard. The count reached 1,522 public trees in the village.

Traxler said a Tree Board has been created consisting of himself, Trustee Claire Stein, Village Engineer Mike Stoffel and Chris Ruch a certified arborist with St. Croix Tree Service. Traxler said there is an opportunity for volunteers to serve on the tree board in several capacities and persons interested in serving can contact him at 684-2535.

The Tree Board will also plan for tree removal of trees that are hazardous. Many of the silver maples planted on boulevards are in that category, said Traxler, and removal in the winter is sometimes best because it results in the least amount of damage to lawns and boulevards.