DNR volunteers and sons find rare fern in the Baraboo Mountains | Local News


A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources volunteer has discovered a plant species in Sauk County that hasn’t been recorded in the area in nearly a century.

According to Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Botanist and Rare Plant Monitoring Program Coordinator, the reed – a species of fern that grows on a cliff – is a rare species of plant. has not been officially sighted in the Baraboo Ranges area since the 1930s. This changed when Ben Redding, who volunteered with the Rare Plant Monitoring Program, his sons and their dog went. hiking in the area and discovered this plant.

This plant, the cycad, is listed as ‘of special concern’ in Wisconsin, says Doyle. “Rare plants are listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern. It is known from about three or four separate, isolated regions in Wisconsin. Ben Redding did some rare botanical surveys for us and was familiar with some of the sites in the Baraboo Hills (Baraboo Ranges), but on this particular day they were just hanging around and, sure enough, They went to an area and found this fern. “

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Two days after discovering the relative Pills, scientifically known as Asplenium trichomanes, Redding emailed Doyle about his discovery. Doyle later discovered that the plant was last reported in the area about 90 years ago.

“These discoveries are very exciting. They enhance our understanding of the numbers and locations of rare plant species to better track and protect them,” Doyle said in a DNR release about the discovery. “Volunteers also revisit known sites, another super important part of the conservation process. If we hadn’t tested these populations, we wouldn’t have known when they were in trouble.”

Baxter's Hollow, Baraboo . Range

The discovery is the first recorded appearance of the fairy tree in the Baraboo Mountains, pictured, in 90 years.


The DNR announced the finding, which occurred last summer, in a statement on Friday. Attempts to contact Redding for comment on Monday were unsuccessful.

According to Doyle and the DNR website, the first beetles have also been identified near Wisconsin Dells. The tree is mainly found on shady cliffs in hardwood forests, but has also been seen on dolomite, sandstone, basalt and other related rocks, according to the website.

“Over the past five years, it has been seen at a number of other points,” Doyle said. “This particular population has not been seen for 90 years.”

Doyle added that the DNR assesses its actions on rare species by tracking them over time after detecting them. DNR receives updates from volunteers and others to monitor various factors, including invasive species, climate change and flooding.

“Although other populations have been seen, it’s important to stay up-to-date on other populations,” Doyle said. “To get a 90-year population update, that’s great. It essentially puts that population back into the fold of our assessments. We’re looking at a viable population now in a way that we didn’t before Ben’s survey. It almost looks like a new population has been found.”

Doyle says the cycads and other cliff/rock-dwelling species are unique because they have reduced susceptibility to invasive species as opposed to woodland or savannah plants. He said the bigger threats to cliff vegetation were rock climbing and the flooding and subsequent cliff erosion.

“The site where the plants were found is already a natural area of ​​the state,” Doyle said. “The site itself is conserved in terms of development, pressure, or large mining or logging operations and the like.”

Doyle added that areas other than South-Central Wisconsin where ferns have been discovered are the Door County area and the north-central portion of the state (especially Iron and Ashland counties).

Other plants on the DNR’s 336 rare plant species list that inhabit the Baraboo/Wisconsin Dells area include: Short rock cress (Boechera dentata), Rocky mountain sedge (Carex backii), and string grass (Cuscuta). glomerata). All of these fall under the category of special concern, similar to the sycamore tree.

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