MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is celebrating volunteers who work on their own or in socially-distanced small groups at State Natural Areas (SNAs) to help control invasive species, collect and plant native seeds and cut and burn brush during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The DNR’s recently released 2020 SNA Volunteer Report shows that such volunteers collectively contributed as many hours – nearly 5,800 – as in previous years, despite COVID-19 safety precautions and group size restrictions.

In addition, volunteers worked on more than 1,200 acres at 39 SNAs, maintaining and restoring some of Wisconsin’s best remaining prairies, forests, wetlands and other habitats.

Organized workdays will resume this month with safety precautions in place, and the DNR is encouraging people to sign up for workdays in their area.

“Our SNA volunteers are a resilient, committed and passionate group and we are thankful for their effort and initiative during a difficult year,” said Jared Urban, DNR SNA Volunteer Program Coordinator. “We’re excited to invite new people to get involved in SNA stewardship by going to a group workday in 2021.”

People can sign up to get notices of workdays in their geographical region or an area that interests them on the SNA volunteer webpage.

No experience is necessary and training and equipment is provided on site. Additional safety precautions are in place for workdays, including limiting group size to 10 in one area of the property and 50 overall, staying six feet apart unless a part of the same household, and limiting tool sharing.

More About State Natural Areas

State Natural Areas are designated to conserve the best of Wisconsin prairies, forests, wetlands and other habitats. These special places provide support for 90% of rare plant species and 75% of rare wildlife species. Nearly all properties are open to the public to enjoy while bird watching, hiking, hunting and fishing. However, most SNAs are largely undeveloped and do not have restrooms, trails and other facilities like state parks do.

Although the DNR holds more than half of these sites in trust for Wisconsinites, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and more than 50 other partners own and manage sites under a system established in 1951 and spurred by Aldo Leopold and other Wisconsin conservation giants.

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