Monitor Your Property

The Wisconsin Young Forest Partnership (WYFP) focuses on creating breeding habitat for golden-winged warblers and American woodcock, because managing for those two birds benefits more than 60 other kinds of wildlife. As interesting as it may be for you to hear a natural resource professional explain how valuable young forest is, experiencing that value firsthand can be a lot more rewarding and fun!

If you already have young forest on your land, or if you plan to create some, WYFP invites you to join our community of landowners and resource professionals and monitor how wildlife uses your property. A great way to do this is to sign up for WYFP's iNaturalist project, Wisconsin's Young Forests. iNaturalist is a citizen science project that provides a place to record and organize environmental observations, share those observations with a community of other nature enthusiasts, and learn more about the natural world.

Joining the Wisconsin’s Young Forests project and submitting your young forest observations on iNaturalist will help WYFP understand the impacts that management actions are having on the plants and animals on your property, plus allow us to fine-tune and improve future management approaches.

Why Join iNaturalist?

Here are some benefits:

  • Encourages you to explore your property
  • Provides a community with whom to share your sightings
  • Offers help with identifying plants and animals
  • Creates a personal log of all your observations
  • Provides data that the Wisconsin Young Forest Partnership can use to demonstrate the effectiveness of young forest habitat management


Any Wisconsin landowner with young forest can participate. Contributing to our Wisconsin's Young Forests iNaturalist project will be extremely valuable if you've had young forest habitat work completed through WYFP or its partners, such as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. Your observations will help reinforce what WYFP advocates – the importance to our environment of young forest – by engaging both yourself and other landowners in exploring the tremendous variety of plants and animals that thrive in a healthy young forest.

If you don't have young forest but would like to create some, this would still be the perfect time to start observing your property. Gathering observations before your management activities take place will help you see the progression of change and how natural forest succession alters the species composition on a tract of land.

Getting Started
Go to or download the iNaturalist app on your smartphone and sign up to create an account. Once you’ve established an account, search for “Wisconsin’s Young Forests” under the projects tab. In the upper right corner, click “Join this Project.”

Once you are accepted into the project, you can start adding observations. iNaturalist lets you submit sightings of anything living: plants, animals, fungi, you name it! It also accepts observations of unknown identity. Providing descriptions with an audio file or photo from your phone or trail camera will provide information for others in the community to help identify species if you are unsure. This could give you the chance to finally figure out what that orange flower is that comes up every spring, or what that bright yellow bird singing in the tree is. As part of the iNaturalist community, you can also help identify unknown species for other members.

Submitting Observations
For more detailed directions on how to add observations, go to

This website provides useful information, including how-to videos, on the use and functionality of the iNaturalist app and website. You will find that iNaturalist provides a wide variety of projects beyond WYFP's project page, and we encourage you to check them out, too.

When you make an observation, it will ask for your location, but you have the control to decide which level of detail you want to share with the community. Directly beneath the map are three options: open, obscure, and private.

The image below shows what the public will see with each of these options. If you don't want to pinpoint your property directly, use obscure. It will provide a point randomly placed within 10 kilometers of the actual location, which is not shown. This way you can let other iNaturalist members get an idea of where your observations were made without giving away too much detail.
Monitoring Ideas

So you signed up and are familiar with iNaturalist, but now what do you do?

Before you begin to monitor for plants and wildlife, familiarize yourself with identifying features of species of interest. Animals can be identified directly by sight or sound, or indirectly by their tracks, scat (feces), or other sign, such as birds’ nests or tooth marks that beavers make on trees. Field guides and online resources can help you get more familiar with species you might expect to find and conduct a more inclusive survey. WYFP has compiled a list of Identification Resources to help you get started.

Learning how to identify an animal or read its sign is half the fun of the inventorying and monitoring process. Remember, if you still cannot identify an animal or its sign, you can call upon the Wisconsin’s Young Forests iNaturalist project community and submit your observations for identification help.

Check out the “Wildlife Monitoring” publication attached below to find detailed information on different wildlife monitoring techniques. We’ve also attached a “Wildlife Survey Sheets” publication. No matter what your interests are, there’s probably a survey out there that you can use to start monitoring your property. Here are a few:

  • Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas
  • Project Feeder Watch
  • Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey
  • Snow Track Survey
  • Predator Scent Post Survey

You can get involved in these specific surveys, or you can just go walk your trails to see what’s happening on your young forest. Either way, WYFP wants you to post your findings on the “Wisconsin’s Young Forests” iNaturalist project page. Even if you don’t have “typical” young forest and still find young forest species in areas like a forest opening or on the edge of the woods, we want to hear about it!

And check out our Family Fun tab for some young forest monitoring ideas to get the whole family involved!

File Attachments: 
PDF icon Wildlife Monitoring.pdf891.37 KB
PDF icon Wildlife Survey Sheets.pdf445.57 KB