Plant lovers who enjoy searching for rare plants can put their passion to work by first attending free volunteer training for the Wisconsin Rare Plant Monitoring Program and then helping to track down rare-plant populations. Training sessions are set for Cable, Green Bay, Oconomowoc and River Falls in March and April. Search online for Wisconsin’s Rare Plant Monitoring Program to register.
Volunteers who complete the training will check on some of Wisconsin’s most rare and beautiful native plants in some of the state’s most pristine places.
The vast majority of these rare-plant populations grow on publicly owned or publicly accessible land. The information volunteers collect is given to property managers and added to the Natural Heritage Inventory, a statutorily required system of collection, storage and management of rare-species information. DNR staff use inventory information when developing master plans for state properties and conservation strategies, conducting research and reviewing proposed projects to ensure they avoid impacts to rare species.
In 2017, citizen scientists submitted data on 185 surveys – more information on the state’s rare plants than all previous years combined.
The DNR relies largely on trained volunteers to help find and collect data on rare plant and animal species. Wisconsin has roughly 1,900 native plant species, 16 percent of which are endangered, threatened or special-concern species, meaning their populations are low or declining. The Rare Plant Monitoring Program is funded largely by the DNR’s Endangered Resources Fund. If you donate now through your Wisconsin income tax form, your donation will be doubled.