Songs of the Badger Tallgrass Prairie

Songs of the Badger Tallgrass Prairie, Part 4

by Laura Olah, executive director CSWAB


Documented rare species at Badger Army Ammunition Plant include the Eastern Whip-poor-will.  Made famous in folk songs, poems, and literature for their endless chanting on summer nights, Whip-poor-wills are easy to hear but hard to see. Their brindled plumage blends perfectly with the gray-brown leaf litter of the open forests where they breed and roost.  These birds are on the decline in parts of their range as open forests are converted to suburbs or agriculture.

Sound and Disturbance

There is significant scientific literature documenting the physical and ecological effects of off-road vehicle use, ranging from soil compaction to non-native plant dispersal.  However, the most widespread impact on songbirds and other wildlife is disturbance. Disruption of breeding and nesting birds is a particularly well documented problem.  Many species are sensitive to human disturbance with the potential disruption of courtship activities, over-exposure of eggs or young birds to weather, and premature fledging of juveniles. Repeated disturbance can eventually lead to nest abandonment and long-term bird community changes.

Acoustic interference from noise can hamper the detection of song by birds of the same species, making it more difficult for them to establish and maintain territories, attract mates, and/or maintain pair bonds. This, in turn, may reduce breeding success in noisy roadside habitats. When begging for food, nestlings may need to call louder to elicit the desired response from their parents, thereby increasing the energetic cost of obtaining food and potentially decreasing fitness.

High levels of traffic noise may also interfere with the detection of alarm calls such as those signaling the presence of predators, which may lead to higher rates of predation.  In addition to road noise, scientific studies have documented a correlation between high urban noise levels and songbird diversity – the more noise, the fewer the number of bird species.

Activities that create an urbanized environment (clean pavement, mowed grass, maintained buildings, and ornamental landscaping) are predicted to produce a bird community dominated by a few non-native and common native bird species, WDNR biologists caution.

All of these considerations make clear that high-impact use and sound disturbance will be detrimental to the songbirds of Badger.

To  hear the song of the Eastern Whip-poor-will, go to:


NEXT WEEK: Wisconsin ranks second nationally in the proportion of citizens considered birders, with fully one-third of residents 16 and older reporting they travel to watch birds, or actively watch and identify birds around home, according to a new U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report.  PLUS, how you can help save the songbirds of Badger.


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CETF Weighs in on State Energy Planning


Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) appreciates the opportunity to provide input regarding the Quadrennial Planning Process generally, and the specific goals, priorities and measurable targets related to the Focus on Energy Program. These comments will address not only some of the questions posed but also decisions made in the first quadrennial planning process that should be revisited.

Phase 1, 2): Should the energy efficiency and renewable resource programs address longer term market changes in addition to short-term goal achievement? If yes, what is the appropriate balance between short-term achievement and longer term market changes.

CETF agrees that both short and longer term market change goals should be considered. Our comments will focus on benefits of a micro-grid, and the need to better consider externalities and carbon reduction in energy policy.

Grid reliability concerns have made grid security a national imperative, whether the concern is based on the threat of cyber or terrorist attack, increases in severe weather or solar flares, human error or interruption by vegetation or wildlife. A comprehensive, three-year Department of Defense (DoD) and Federal Emergency Management Agency study, Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security,1 concluded that relying on massive, complex, and interconnected infrastructures to transmit and deliver power from centralized generation creates unavoidable, and costly, vulnerabilities.

Read the entire document uploaded to the WPSC (docket #5-fe-100). CETF Comments on Quadrennial Planning Process II_03.14.14


Just the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…….

The March 2014 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News cover story, Line Litigation; Transmission Opponents Battle On, left out crucial information, which would lead to a very different understanding of the situation.

SOUL of Wisconsin and Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) believe the way regional transmission is being approved conflicts with existing state policies and statutes, and ignores known reliability and cost-issues associated with sending electricity great distances — no matter if the generation comes from coal or wind. SOUL and CETF further believe the energy infrastructure should be comprehensive, transparent and accountable to ratepayers.

Critical to this is a true understanding of cost and need, and an unbiased comparative analysis of all energy solutions that takes into account impacts on communities, job creation and property.

Read more at Rebuttal to WI Energy Cooperative News Cover Story_March 2014