Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guide completed

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Fifth and final guide now available

Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guidesMADISON – The fifth and final segment of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail describing 71 automobile-accessible waypoints in the 13 county Southern Savanna region is now complete. The Southern Savanna Birding and Nature Trail (pdf; 9.2 MB) is available on line through the Department of Natural Resources Web site, and in hard copy at DNR service centers, Wisconsin Welcom Centers (exit DNR) and soon though the maps and guides page Department of Tourism Web site.

The complete guide offers some of the best wildlife and nature viewing and learning experiences Wisconsin has to offer. Information on the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail is available online at (exit DNR).

“All five regions in the series have unique and interesting offerings,” said DNR conservation biologist Susan Foote-Martin who coordinated development of the trail. “But I like to think that we saved some of the best for last. This segment includes the internationally recognized Horicon Marsh, the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Jefferson and Zeloski Marshes and a number of State Natural Areas, all offering unique views of glacial landscapes and prairie and oak savanna habitats.”

Several stops on Southern Savanna region trail are a bit different from what travelers might expect to find at a typical wildlife viewing stop. There is the International Crane Foundation near Baraboo where visitors can see all 15 species of cranes from around the world including a pair of the most endangered of all cranes, the five-foot tall whooping crane; the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, built in honor of this famous author and naturalist, between Baraboo and Portage; and the Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson, which is home to the 500 mounted bird collection of naturalist and Swedish immigrant, Thure Kumlien. Another one-of-a-kind natural attraction is the Cave of the Mounds National Natural Landmark near Blue Mounds.

“Old prairie and oak savanna species are plentiful in this region,” add Foote-Martin. “For birders seeking to see and record these species this region and the Buena Vista grassland offer the best opportunities available in Wisconsin. There are also numerous state parks available for camping along the way and this region also offers the first chance to see spring migrants moving north and the last chance to see fall migrants moving south.

The first four guides in the set were Lake Superior/Northwoods in 2004, the Mississippi/Chippewa Rivers in 2005, the Lake Michigan guide in 2006 and the Central Sands Prairies in 2007. In total, the set of guidebooks list 368 waypoints. All guides are still available in limited numbers. A CD that will contain all five guides is currently in the works, and will be available for purchase in 2009.

A public television documentary titled, “On the Trail: an In Wisconsin Special” produced by WHA-TV is scheduled for statewide broadcast March 12 at 7 p.m.. Film crews visited many of the sites along the five trail segments over the past three years filming the attractions and talking to local businesses, governments and citizens who have been involved in developing the trail. Segments of the special will be available for viewing on the Wisconsin Public Television Web site at [] (exit DNR), under the link to In Wisconsin.

The major partners in developing the trail system are the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Tourism, the Natural Resources Foundation, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.