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The 2020 Fox River Summit has been cancelled
The 8th Annual
Thursday, March 26th, 2020      Veterans Terrace in Burlington, WI
We are still seeking Summit Sponsors and Exhibitors
Register Here
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Classifying Lakes to Make

Wisconsin Fisheries Better

Andrew L. Rypel, Ph.D. - Associate Professor

Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology

University of California, Davis


Successful fisheries conservation practices in one ecosystem can usually be applied in similar ecosystems. Here, a lake classification system is presented that was developed in collaboration with Wisconsin fisheries biologists over the course of 6 years with the goal of improving fisheries management decisions. The system is flexible - meaning lakes can change classes over time as the environment shifts such as from climate change, eutrophication, brownification or other factors. Biologists are encouraged to use this framework to make informed lake fisheries management decisions throughout the state. Examples will be presented on how the data products from this work be applied to enhance resource management decisions.

Andrew grew up in Pewaukee, Wisconsin where he was as an avid angler of fishes of all kinds. His research is centered on understanding effects of global environmental change on fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, but importantly on developing usable conservation science for managers to battle these effects. From 2011 to 2017, he was a fishery research scientist at the Wisconsin DNR in Madison. He is currently an Associate Professor and the Peter B. Moyle and California Trout Endowed Chair in the Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology at University of California, Davis. He is also the Acting Director for the Center for Watershed Sciences, a hub for interdisciplinary water research on campus.               

View Andrew's publications on Google Scholar

Keynote Speakers
View the full Agenda and Schedule here

In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation developing in both Wisconsin and Illinois and across the nation— the planning committee has decided to cancel the 2020 8th Annual Fox River Summit at Veterans Terrace is scheduled for March 26, 2020. This was not a decision we made lightly and it was made out of concern for the welfare of our attendees. The current COVID-19 situation is a serious public health issue (now officially qualified as a pandemic) and we decided to follow public health agencies advice and cancel public gatherings. One of our keynote speakers was already prohibited from travelling, UW schools will likely not be able to attend, and we fear more speakers and our attendees will be similarly affected and/or have individual health concerns.


We have refunded the full amount of all registrations though PayPal and look toward next year’s 2021 Fox River Summit, March 18, 2021.


Thank you for your support of the Fox River Summit.



Tom Slawski,

President, Southeast Fox River Partnership

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Illinois Department of Natural Resources: A State Partner Perspective

John Rogner - Assistant Director

Illinois Department of Natural Resources


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has suffered a nearly continuous erosion of base funding and staff capacity since the mid-2000’s, culminating in several years of no or partial budgets during the previous administration.  We have now moved from survival mode into recovery mode, and are re-starting programs and projects that were dormant for several years.  This presentation will speak to challenges and opportunities both unique to Illinois and those shared by fish and wildlife agencies across the nation, and highlight some recent and anticipated project successes in the Fox River watershed.

In July 2019, John Rogner was nominated by Governor JB Pritzker to serve as Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. From 2013-2018, John worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the Coordinator of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative, leading a coalition of federal, state and private conservation organizations in Great Lakes Basin-wide collaborative natural resource planning. During this period, he also provided leadership in the establishment of two new national wildlife refuges (Hackmatack and Kankakee) in the Chicago region, eventually serving as Manager of both. From 2009 - 2013 John served under an appointment by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn as Assistant Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Prior to that he served as Field Supervisor of the Chicago Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a position he held since 1997.  He directed all of the Service’s programs in endangered species conservation, environmental contaminants, conservation planning assistance, habitat restoration, and environmental education in the six-county Chicago metropolitan area.  During this time, he also served as Chair of Chicago Wilderness, a coalition of over 240 organizations dedicated toward conserving the biodiversity of the Chicago region. John began his career with the Chicago District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, where he held various positions implementing the regulatory program under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, eventually becoming Chief of the Regulatory Branch. Mr. Rogner has undergraduate and graduate degrees in biological sciences from Northern Illinois University.

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Promoting Soil Health -

On-Farm Costs, Risks, and Rewards

Jamie Patton - Senior Outreach Specialist, Northeast Wisconsin, Nutrient and Pest Management Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Featured Speakers  

Changing a farming system to improve soil health may involve a number of infrastructure, input, and human capital investments. Like with any business change, we have to ask, “What is the return on investment?”.  In this session, we will broadly explore the potential economic and social on-farm costs, risks, and rewards of adopting soil health management practices in our area.  We will also discuss how companies, municipalities and communities are supporting the soil health movement, both regionally and nationally.

Jamie Patton, PhD, CPSS, is a Senior Outreach Specialist for northeast Wisconsin with the Nutrient and Pest Management Program (NPM), UW-Madison. Her research and outreach activities focus on farm system approaches to improving soil health as a means to achieve food sovereignty, farm profitability and resiliency, and ground and surface water quality. Working as part of the interdisciplinary NPM team, she provides education and technical expertise to farmers, organizations, and agencies on nutrient management, soil health, and cover crops. Jamie earned her PhD in Soil Science from Oklahoma State University.  Prior to joining the Nutrient and Pest Management Program, she was an Associate Professor of Soil Science at Northwest Missouri State University and an Associate Professor/Agriculture Educator with University of Wisconsin-Extension in Shawano County. 

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Vegetation Management

Keir Peckham

President -Vegetation Management Specialist

Natural Landscapes, Inc. (NLI)

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Vegetation management is forever a necessity in assuring long success for desirable vegetation establishment throughout natural growing spaces. Techniques used by Natural Landscapes, Inc. (NLI) to control unwanted plant species mostly include selective cutting and timely mowing, depending on species to be managed. Avoiding soil disturbance has been the biggest contributor to our success.


Natural Landscapes, Inc. has been helping municipalities, engineering firms, general landscape contractors, developers and private land owners with their vegetation restoration and management needs since 2001. NLI specializes in the restoration and installation of natural landscaping projects including prairie and wetland restoration, as well as shorelines and water gardens.                                                                           

Keir began his career in 1990 (29 years ago) working for a native wetland plant and seed nursery in Muskego (Country Wetlands Nursery). In 2001 he established his own company, Natural Landscapes, Inc. Keir continues to work in the field with installing, managing and monitoring prairie and wetland restoration projects. The bulk of his knowledge has been acquired from the successes and failures of numerous natural landscaping projects throughout his career.

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100 Years Later: Fox River Photo Canoe Trip

Scott Johnson - Science Teacher

Oswego East High School

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In the summer of 1912 Dwight Young (Scott’s great-grandfather) and John Condon paddled a wooden rowboat down the lower Fox River, from Oswego to Ottawa. Along the way, Dwight, an aspiring photographer, captured 52 photographs of the surrounding landscape.  100 years later, in 2012, Scott and his family attempted to recreate the photographic canoe trip and relocate the locations that were originally documented in 1912. The comparisons between both trips provide great insight into how the Fox River has changed, and remained the same, throughout a century of human and natural forces.

Scott grew up along the Fox River in Oswego Illinois, immediately downstream from his environmentalist grandfather, the late Dick Young.  Under his grandfather's guidance, Scott acquired a deep appreciation for the natural world and spent his childhood exploring islands, catching fish, and photographing nature.  After graduating from North Central College, he became a Science Teacher at Oswego East High School and currently sponsors the Ecology Club.

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Development of Water Quality Model to support Fox River Implementation Plan


Rishab Mahajan, Geosyntec Consultants and

Cindy Skrukrud, Fox River Study Group

The Fox River in Illinois is listed as impaired for water quality by Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The Fox River Study Group (FRSG) is a diverse coalition of stakeholders working together to preserve and enhance water quality in the Fox River watershed. FRSG has undertaken a multi-phased approach to address the water quality impairments in the Fox River. This approach includes intensive water quality monitoring and development of  water quality model to support the  Fox River Implementation Plan (FRIP), which is the roadmap to eliminate the water quality impairments (FRSG 2015).The presentation will discuss the development of a water quality model for 98 miles of the Fox River from Stratton Dam to Dayton, IL. The water quality model will be applied to identify the management actions to improve the water quality in the Fox River.

Rishab Mahajan is a water resources engineer principally involved in hydrodynamic, sediment transport and water quality modeling with a focus on regulatory permits and requirements, stormwater management, surface water system assessments, TMDL development and implementation, and nutrient criteria limit development. He has over 10 years of experience in the development and calibration of hydrodynamic and water quality models. Rishab is currently managing the development of the watershed and water quality models for 98 miles of the Fox River in support of the FRSG’s Fox River Implementation Plan.


The Eloquence of Art as a Conservation Tool


Trish Beckjord - Fox River Initiative -The Conservation Foundation and

Joel Sheesley - Emeritus Professor of Art - Wheaton College

Trish Beckjord built her experience in sustainable planning and site design through her work at the award-winning design firms Conservation Design Forum and Smithgroup JJR. While at Midwest Groundcovers, she expanded the native plants and green infrastructure market with homeowners, landscape contractors and independent garden centers. Since joining TCF, she has continued working with homeowners and community officials to promote conservation and sustainable approaches to design and landscape stewardship. Trish has led the Fox River Education and Outreach Initiative since 2016. An experienced public speaker and writer, Trish currently also writes a column for Midwest’s Natural Garden Natives™.

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In 2016, The Conservation Foundation engaged in a partnership with plein air painter Joel Sheesley to paint Fox River locations of his choosing from north Kane County to the river’s confluence with the Illinois in Ottawa, IL.  The goal of this partnership, was to connect to a more diverse audience about the importance of conservation and the value of the natural environment through art using the Fox River as a focal point. Trish Beckjord, TCF’s program manager for the Fox River Initiative and artist Joel Sheesley, will share their perspectives on the specifics and achievements of the program.


Joel Sheesley, an Emeritus Professor of Art from Wheaton College, is a beautifully talented plein air artist who paints in all seasons to capture images that convey the genius loci of a particular place. Author, teacher, artist, Joel is equally thoughtful and talented in each of these areas. Joel’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo, group and invitational exhibits and can be viewed in several publications. The most recent is A Fox River Testimony published by The Conservation Foundation in 2018. As TCF’s Artist-in-Residence, Joel completed 90 Fox River paintings that have been exhibited throughout the Fox River valley.


The painting to the right January 2 Lippold Park Sunset

(yes, that's a painting and not a photo)

is an example of Joel's work.

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It's Our Fox River Day

Saturday - September 19th, 2020

Gary Mechanic - Friends of the Fox River

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In the spirit of The Fox River Summit, and Friends of the Fox River's goal to promote collaboration among all communities in the Fox River's watershed, we are encouraging local governments along the river, and throughout the watershed, to proclaim the 3rd Saturday in September "It's Our Fox River Day". The draft resolution below also pledges support for local efforts to clean up and celebrate the value and the place of the Fox River in our communities, and in our lives.

Download and start organizing your own It's Our Fox River Day with this template proclamation


Snapshot Wisconsin:

A trail camera project to monitor wildlife

Jennifer Stenglein

Research Scientist

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


Let's discover our wildlife together! Snapshot Wisconsin is a partnership to monitor wildlife year-round, using a statewide network of trail cameras. The project provides data needed for wildlife management decision support. It is also a unique opportunity for individuals, families, and students to get involved in monitoring the state’s valuable natural resources.

Jennifer Stenglein is a research scientist with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. She earned her PhD from UW-Madison and her Master’s from University of Idaho, both on estimating wolf population dynamics. She lives in Madison with her family.


Salt in the Environment:

Water Quality Update for the Fox River Basin

Justin Poinsatte

Senior Specialist-Biologist

Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has an ongoing study on the introduction of chloride to the environment and its environmental impacts within Southeastern Wisconsin. This study aims to provide a comprehensive inventory of the historic and present sources of chloride loads to surface and groundwater resources; an assessment of the effects chloride has on the environment, and in particular on the surface and groundwater resources of Southeastern Wisconsin; address current research and emerging technologies and policies related to mitigating chloride’s environmental effects; and identify alternative means as well as formulate recommendations to achieve desired chloride levels and abate its undesirable environmental impacts. Justin will share preliminary study results for the Fox River and discuss opportunities to evaluate water quality trends throughout the entire basin.

Justin is a Senior Specialist-Biologist with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, where he assists with the development of lake and river management plans. Justin earned his BS from the University of Notre Dame and his PhD from Washington State University. Prior to joining the Commission in 2019, Justin worked as a Natural Resources Research Scientist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the Bureau of Water Quality.

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