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Fifth annual Conservation Day benefits USFWS Pollinator Program

College students from UW-River Falls and UW-Stevens Point joined local area Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts collecting milkweed seeds as part of activities at the fifth annual Conservation Day on the WPA. (Photos by Tom Lindfors)1 / 5
Members of Cub Scout Pack 146, Amery, search for milkweed seeds as part of the fifth annual Conservation Day on the WPA. Volunteers were collecting seeds as part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s pollinator habitat restoration efforts. (Tom Lindfors photo)2 / 5
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(Tom Lindfors photo)5 / 5

Local Scouting groups teamed up with student volunteers from UW-River Falls and UW-Stevens Point, volunteers from the Friends of the St. Croix Wetlands Management District, and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff members to collect milkweed seeds at the fifth annual Conservation Day on the Waterfowl Production Area (WPA), Saturday, outside of Deer Park.

Conservation Day on the WPA is conducted annually by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s St. Croix Wetland Management District in partnership with the Boy Scout’s Eagle River District and Friends of the St. Croix Wetland Management District.

Each year USFWS staff prioritize projects that address invasive species eradication and habitat restoration. This year teams of volunteers were bused from a central location to several waterfowl production areas including Oak Ridge and Plum Bush to collect the seeds.

Volunteers enjoyed perfect weather for plucking the seeds from their pods and then depositing them into their paper collection bags.

Everyone got a break at midday to compare collecting efforts and to enjoy lunch provided by the Order of the Arrow Cook Crew of the Totanhan Nakaha Lodge. USFWS staff had scouted the locations ahead of time to determine where there were good clusters of milkweed.

The annual event has proved popular with college students pursuing careers in the conservation field for the experience they gain working first hand in the field with USFWS service staff for the day.

Thanks to ground work put in by USFWS Wildlife Biologist Chris Trosen and Eagle River District Northern Council leader Greg Scheder, Boy Scouts can also benefit from the conservation work as it fulfills requirements for several merit badges including Environmental Science, Citizenship in the World, Soil and Water Conservation or Wildlife Management.

The milkweed seeds collected at this year’s event will be contributed to the USFWS national pollinator habitat restoration effort announced earlier this year.