Register Now for the Upcoming SER MWGL Webinar

Upcoming Webinar

Urban Ecological Restoration: Unique Challenges and Benefits

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2 pm ET/1 pm CT

West Creek Conservancy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservancy and watershed organization that has been serving the Greater Cleveland area for 20 years.  The organization takes a watershed restoration focus on land conservation and restoration to protect waterways/green space, while in turn enhancing infrastructure stability/sustainability.  Derek Schafer, Executive Director, will present on the initiatives WCC has implemented throughout its service area that protects land, provides green space, restores waterways, and creates resilient communities–while also providing alternative transportation and recreational corridors.

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Heeding the Call: 2018 SER Midwest-Great Lakes Chapter Meeting

In 2018 the annual meeting of the Midwest-Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) will be held from April 20 to April 22, 2018 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  The Annual Chapter meeting is being held in conjunction with the 40th Annual Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention and Water Action Volunteer Symposium.

The 2018 meeting represents a milestone, because it will be our tenth annual meeting and it will be the first time that the Chapter has held a joint meeting with another organization.  This joint meeting has been structured so that April 18 to 20, 2018 are the dates of the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention and April 20 to April 22, 2018 are the dates of the 2018 SER Midwest-Great Lakes Chapter meeting.  Notably, April 20th will be the dates that both groups will be present together. The Annual Meeting Committee is working with the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention to identify ways to promote cross-meeting discussion and interaction.  More details to come on this aspect in the future.  We are grateful for the generous support of this year’s meeting hosts – The College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the University of Wisconsin Extension-Lakes.

Our meeting theme is “Heeding the Call”, which represents our primary goal of exploring how to promote the call to expand restoration efforts and partnerships beyond the typical site scale to larger spatial scales encompassing multiple ecosystem types.  Our secondary goal is to bring together all who are interested in ecological restoration and wish to contribute to advancing the field of ecological restoration.  Our meeting agenda will be similar to our past meetings and will include technical presentations, symposia, workshops, social events, and field trips

We are seeking proposals for workshops or organized symposia to be part of the annual meeting agenda.  We encourage the submission of workshop and symposium proposals that are directly related to the meeting theme and our meeting goal, as well as proposals involving any topic related to ecological restoration.  Workshops and symposia are allocated a two hour block of time.  Workshops focus on practical applications and are intended to convey specific technical knowledge, skills, or methodologies.  In contrast symposia provide a forum for the exploration and discussion of special topics or themes.   So if you have an idea for a workshop or symposia proposal, then we encourage you to develop and submit a proposal.  The deadline for submitting a workshop or symposia proposal is 11/1/2017.  Feel free to contact us if you have questions about potential workshop or symposia proposals.   Details on submitting a workshop or symposia proposal can be found at the website below:

We are also seeking contributed oral and poster presentations to be presented at the Annual Chapter meeting.   We welcome the submission of abstracts for oral and poster presentations that are directly related to the meeting theme and our meeting goals, as well as abstracts involving any topic related to ecological restoration.  The deadline for submission of abstracts for contributed oral and poster presentations is December 1, 2017.  Details on submitting a contributed presentation abstract can be found at the website below:

In conclusion, I want to encourage everyone to Heed the Call and submit a workshop proposal, a symposia proposal, or a contributed presentation abstract.  Additionally, please share this information with your colleagues whom you think would be interested in contributing and attending our upcoming annual meeting.  If you have any questions about the Annual Meeting please contact us via email.


Rocky Smiley

Annual Meeting Chair/At Large Representative

SER Midwest-Great Lakes Chapter

Peschel Wins SER-MWGL Student Research Award for 2017


Anna Peschel at work in her greenhouse with the subject of her research, Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge pea).  Plants will be hand pollinated to produce seed that she will sow into the field this fall.

Anna Peschel, a PhD student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, won the award for her research which tackles the persistent and challenging question of local adaptation.  Peschel said in her research award proposal that she is interested specifically in the critical question of whether “adaptive evolution can proceed at a sufficiently rapid pace to maintain population fitness and demographic stability.”   The question of species persistence in the age of climate change is especially relevant, Peschel emphasizes.

Peschel’s will be awarded $1000 by the Midwest Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration to help support her research.  This is the third year that a student research award has been offered to student members for work done in the seven-state chapter area.   Previous winners include Becky Barak in 2016 and Amy Alstad in 2015.


Peschel at the McCarthy Lake WMA in Minnesota, one of her field sites.

Peschel’s work is focused on the tall grass prairie region of Minnesota that once covered 18 million acres, but now less than two percent remains.  Peschel says in her research proposal, “Tallgrass prairie plants are at risk of extinction from climate change unless adaptation by natural selection restores the growth rates of their populations to levels that maintain them.”

Peschel’s research will use the annual prairie legume, partridge pea as a focal organism to represent tall grass prairie plants and her research will attempt to determine its “adaptive capacity along an aridity gradient mimicking environmental conditions predicted to reach eastern Minnesota in 25-30 years.”


Precipitation exclusion structures Peschel will employ to mimic drought.

The results of Peschel’s research will be presented at SER MWGL’s annual meeting next April in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin.

Online Learning for Volunteer Stewards: Latest Webinar in SER MWGL Series

Strengthening Resources for Ecological Restoration

Save the Date:  May 24, 2017 at 1pm CT/2pm ET

Please join us to learn how The Morton Arboretum is developing a new blended learning format to support educational needs of volunteer stewards conducting restoration. The multimedia initiative combines online modules, field experiences, and traditional classes. This teaching style allows audiences to access interactive course materials from home computers,

Register for Free At:

Restoration and the Season of Migrations…

Over the weekend we celebrated International Migratory Bird Day with a hike around one of the Cook County forest preserves, Crabtree Nature Center.   It was gratifying to see the ongoing restoration progress at this site – which seems to be getting better year by year.   One of our favorite trails goes out into open grasslands – which has gotten recent attention over the past winter via the clearing of some dead ash trees and other secondary and invasive species:



While the sight of this wood pile might be off putting to some, it’s worth reminding visitors what’s at stake here: the expansion and improvement of grassland habitat, which currently makes up a tiny fraction of the Illinois landscape.   I was happy to see a (deer-nibbled!) Jack-in-the-Pulpit bravely emerging from the newly cleared ground plane:


Looking in a different direction, one can see where controlled burns have also been employed:


These open fields descend gradually into adjacent wetlands.  What’s the payoff?  In just this section of the trail we were treated to distant view of two Sandhill cranes that have apparently nested here this year, as well as the sound of a Sora calling from the wet areas nearby:


Elsewhere in the vicinity we caught glimpses of a possible osprey, and migrating American white pelicans.  Such restoration efforts help provide habitat for these amazing birds.   Keep looking up!