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Ducks Unlimited WI chapters earn spots on elite list

Ducks Unlimited promotes healthy ecosystems for birds along their migratory routes.

 

The following article was published by Wisconsin State Farmer on May 25, 2017. 

MADISON – The President’s Elite are among Ducks Unlimited’s most prestigious volunteer chapters throughout the nation. Every year, the list is reserved for the chapters that raise $100,000 to $250,000 for DU’s habitat conservation work.

In 2016, Wisconsin had two chapters included on the list: University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and Madison Area chapters.

“These fundraising events are the backbone of DU’s habitat conservation efforts, and the volunteers who make up these chapters are the force making a difference for North American waterfowl populations,” said DU President Paul Bonderson. “It takes a great deal of effort to achieve the President’s Elite level, and these chapters deserve to be congratulated by every person who enjoys the outdoors.”

The 2016 President’s Elite chapters have the distinction of being honored during DU’s 80th National Convention in San Antonio, May 31 – June 4, with many chapter representatives in attendance.

UW-Stevens Point and Madison Area earned spots on the President’s Elite list out of the more than 2,600 DU chapters nationwide that host more than 3,900 fundraising events throughout the year. DU’s event fundraising system has become a model for other conservation organizations around the world and has funded a significant portion of the more than 13.8 million acres of wetlands and associated habitat DU has conserved since 1937.

“DU chapters across the country are showing that the future of waterfowl populations and the wetlands that filter our water and protect us from flooding are important to them and to their communities,” Bonderson said. “The more money we raise, the more habitat we can conserve and the closer we are to preserving our waterfowl hunting heritage. I would like to personally thank all our President’s Elite chapters for their achievement and look forward to seeing them among our distinguished chapters next year.”

 

Dane County to fund marsh land purchases

Natural Heritage Land Trust-Angie Banks

 

The following article was written by Jennifer Fetterly at The Star on May 30, 2017. 

DANE CO, Wis. – Outdoor enthusiasts will get more play area in the Lodi Marsh with a 58-acre land acquisition set to open to the public early summer.

The land off of County Highway Y in the northwest edge of Lodi Marsh will be a hot spot for hikers, hunters, fisherman, bird watchers and cross-country skiers.

The $174,642 price tag will be funded through Dane County Conservation Fund Grant and the DNR Stewardship Grant Program. The Natural Heritage Land Trust, which helped seal the land deal, is also contributing funds.

The Thompson property purchase is a coup to help protect critical waters, wetlands and grasslands in the current 1,211 acres Lodi Marsh Wildlife and State Natural Area, said Jim Welsh, executive director of the Natural Heritage Land Trust.

Closing up the gaps in the conservation area, he said, will help the state manage the land better.

The land, in the town of Dane, also has 2,000 feet of Spring Creek frontage. That was a plus for some Dane County supervisors, who unanimously approved the purchase at the May 18 county board meeting.

“This purchase is a good idea,” said Dane County Supervisor Dave Ripp. “That’s a Class 1 cold water trout stream, and this will help protect it by surrounding it with public land now.”

More money for marshes

Dane County it set to purchase 130 acres of land and easements in the Cherokee Marsh.

The $1.5 million deal will increase public access to the Yahara River in the natural resource and wildlife area and protect the waterways and restore wildlife habitat.

Last week Dane County supervisor approved the purchase of the 53 acres and a 77-acre conservation easement, from Ronald and Heather Treinen, as part of the deal. The land is at the intersection of River Road and Highway 19 in the Town of Westport and will be part of the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area.

Local environmentalists say this latest purchase will connect with the 81 acres the county acquired for $1.1 million two years ago along the Yahara River in the towns of Windsor and Burke—creating a 200-acre contiguous parcel.

Dane County Supervisor Tim Kiefer said there are three benefits to the new acquisition: flood prevention, improving lake water quality and preserving open space.

“There is going to be significant population growth in Dane County and blocking off area like this that have significant recreational potential along the Yahara River are going to be really important,” Kiefer said.

 

Elementary school works to preserve forest in school’s backyard

Lake View Elementary School is raising money to save their outdoor classroom.

The following article was published by WISC-TV on June 8, 2017. 

MADISON, Wis. – A Madison elementary school is taking steps to preserve a forest in the school’s backyard.

Lake View Elementary School was built in an oak woodland, which students use as a living laboratory.

School officials noticed an apartment complex was supposed to be built nearby and reached out to the Natural Heritage Land Trust to help them protect and buy the land.

The school, along with the trust, has been raising money to buy the land from Habitat for Humanity.

“We protect special places, and this is a special place,” said Heidi Habeger, with the Natural Heritage Land Trust. “They were hoping that we could help them buy a piece of land that they could add to their outdoor classroom.”

The trust is very close to reaching its goal of raising $161,000. So far, it’s raised $110,000.

After the trust purchases the land, it will then donate it to the school to use for its outdoor classrooms. The land will become the Lake View Elementary School Forest.

Donations can be made at www.nhlt.org. Click on the “donate now” button and mention the donation is for the Lake View project.

Volunteers Rise to the Challenge

59 volunteers committed 1,471 hours of service to keeping the Ice Age Trail open.

 

The following post was written by our wonderful member Ice Age Trail Alliance.

Keeping 15 miles of hard-to-access Ice Age Trail open and passable through rough, rocky terrain is no easy task. It takes a certain amount of grit to volunteer for a project of this magnitude, and 59 volunteers rose to the challenge and committed 1,471 hours to this worthy cause.

The Blue Hills are a gem and, thanks to your service and stewardship, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is in fine condition for enjoyment by visitors from far and wide.

Volunteers:

  • Operated 4 mowers for 90+ hours
  • Skillfully and safely operated 7 chainsaws, clearing dozens of down and hazardous trees from on and across the trail
  • Cleared encroaching brush with 3 gas-powered weed whackers, fit with metal cutting blades
  • Rehabbed ¼ mile of tread
  • Installed trail signage posts and thoughtfully painted several hundred reassurance markers – the iconic 2×6 yellow blaze

In all, 14+ miles of the Ice Age Trail were made open, passable and readily follow-able.

Special Thanks:

  • YOU!!
  • The Rusk County Forestry Department for use of the Murphy Flowage day use area for camping and base camp needs
  • All 18 Chippewa Moraine chapter members for pitching in to help a neighboring chapter and the MSC program
  • The Superior Lobe and Chippewa chapters and all individuals who loaned or provided power equipment
  • Fred Nash for pre-event planning and logistics
  • Thelma Johnson (Camp Chef), Letitia Koppa, Carol Johnson and Donna Pachaud for the amazing meals (and rhubarb galore!) that kept everyone fed and full of energy
  • Chris and Stephen McDiarmid of Gorilly Goods for the delicious organic snacks
  • Jennie-O Turkey for the tasty sandwich meats for our hand-prepared lunches
  • Jerry Sazama and all crew leaders for your dedication and leadership

Next Up:

IAT-U and Boardwalk Construction, June 21-25; summer camp for Trail wizards and lots of hand-on learning. Details here.

We’re heading to Kewaunee County to raise dollars for the IATA by serving good grub at Farm Technology Days, July 11 – 13. Details here.

 

State and Federal Land Conservation Programs are at Risk

If ever there was a time for Wisconsin’s land trusts and the conservation community to work together with a common purpose, this is it. Many of our top priorities at the state and federal levelsWisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and public land ownership—face grave threats, and we need your support and involvement.

State Threats

Lands purchased through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program help protect Wisconsin’s air and water quality, and provide outdoor places that are close to home, where folks go to find peace, recreate, and reap the health benefits associated with such areas. Assembly Bill 338 seeks to reallocate most of that funding to create scholarships for students and purchase low-value lands currently owned by the state.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program helps keep pace with an ever-growing need for public access to undeveloped, natural greenspaces throughout the state–like the one pictured here. Photo by Amy Singh

Federal Threats

The President’s 2018 budget proposal threatens to completely eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which provides critical funds that clean up and reduce pollution, prevent invasive species from ruining our waters, and keep our Great Lakes healthy.

The federal budget proposal also includes severe cuts to the Land & Water Conservation Fund, a program that creates and protects national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges from development. It also provides matching grants to states for their local parks and recreation projects.

These federal programs protect our nation’s most valuable assets: clean water, air, and the kind of natural landscapes that are so important for our physical and mental well being. Photo by Mindy Petersen.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Urge Wisconsin legislators to oppose this bill.

Let your state senators and house member know why you care about these important federal programs.

Looking for additional ways to help? Here are 7 ways to help protect your public lands and waters.

Trump Budget Eliminates Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Leaving Fate of Lakes in Hands of U.S. Congress

The following statement was released today by The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 16, 2017)—The Trump Administration’s budget released today eliminates the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a popular program responsible for cleaning up toxic pollution, restoring wildlife habitat, controlling invasive species and reducing runoff from cities and farms. The cuts are part of the administration’s efforts to gut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by $2.6 billion, almost one-third of the budget for the agency responsible for ensuring every American has clean, safe drinking water. During the presidential campaign, representatives of Trump pledged to support federal Great Lakes restoration investments.

Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:

“For the 30 million people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, health, jobs, and way of life, the Trump Administration budget is a total non-starter. The Trump Administration’s budget makes it abundantly clear that real leadership to benefit the people of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois will have to come from Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, who have worked together over the last seven years to invest in Great Lakes restoration projects that are producing results for the environment and economy in local communities across the region. We look forward to working with Congress to restore funding to these important programs to ensure that Great Lakes restoration remains a top national priority.”

Read the White House budget at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf

EPA and Great Lakes restoration cuts can be found on page 41-42

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. For more information visit http://www.healthylakes.org Follow us on twitter @healthylakes.

Help Protect the Great Lakes

The original version of this article was updated on 3/16/17 in response to the release of the Trump Administration’s preliminary federal budget (EPA and Great Lakes restoration cuts can be found on page 41-42.)

The Great Lakes–which provide drinking water for nearly 40 million people, including more than a million Wisconsinites–are at risk. Gathering Waters staff is in D.C. this week for Great Lakes Day with more than 100 advocates from the region to let members of Congress know how vital and valuable the Great Lakes are to our state’s economy and quality of life.

Executive Director, Mike Carlson and Government Relations Director, Chris Danou were in Senator Baldwin’s office on the morning the draft budget was released.

Read on for more information about:

  • The potential for a complete loss of all federal funding for Great Lakes protection and restoration;
  • How you can help protect the Great Lakes;
  • Wisconsin land trusts and the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a critical federal program for cleaning up toxic pollution, reducing polluted runoff, controlling invasive species and restoring habitat. Cuts to this funding would be devastating.

Bi-partisan Great Lakes Programs at Risk

The Trump Administration’s preliminary budget eviscerates funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)–a critical federal program for cleaning up toxic pollution, reducing polluted runoff, controlling invasive species and restoring habitat. The loss of the $300 million annual funding would devastate Great Lakes restoration efforts. The GLRI has enjoyed strong bi-partisan support in Congress, and we’re looking to Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation for leadership in defending critical Great Lakes funding and programs.

Read a statement from the Healing Our Waters Coalition to find out more about the immediate threat to one of Wisconsin’s most valuable assets.

 

You can help by contacting legislators and making a donation.

YOU Can Help

As part of the HOW Coalition’s annual fly-in to Washington DC, more than 100 Great Lakes advocates, including Gathering Waters staff, are meeting with members of Congress this week to talk about successful restoration efforts and the need for continued investment in the region. Can’t join us in DC? No problem–you can make a difference from home. Call your federal representatives today and ask them to protect critical Great Lakes funding and programs.

Find contact information for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators and your U.S. House member, or simply text your zip code to 520-200-2223. You’ll get a text back immediately with everything you need.

Also, consider a donation to Gathering Waters today to increase your impact.

More than a dozen Wisconsin land trusts help protect the Great Lakes in the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior basins through land protection and management.

Wisconsin Land Trusts and the Great Lakes

More than a dozen Wisconsin land trusts help protect the Great Lakes in the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior basins through land protection and management. These protected lands–such as the Frog Bay Tribal National Park–also provide access to the Lakes for all of us–for all kinds of recreation and enjoyment, forever.

Cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be devastating to these efforts in the region.

Trump Administration Proposed Cuts to Great Lakes Programs, EPA Unacceptable

The following is a statement from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW Coalition), which consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Gathering Waters is a proud part of the HOW Coalition.

Republicans, Democrats in Congress are key to protecting Great Lakes, clean water programs

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 9, 2017)—The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today expressed deep concern with the rumored Trump Administration’s budget cuts that would gut core Great Lakes programs, roll back Clean Water Act protections, and delay federal action to respond to serious threats like the invasive Asian carp. Absent a change in course from the Trump Administration, the Coalition is looking to work with the U.S. Congress to keep federal restoration efforts on track.

“The administration’s actions over the last few weeks threaten to stop federal Great Lakes restoration efforts in their tracks and undermine gains we’ve made,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We strongly urge the White House to reverse course and put forward a strong Great Lakes budget that is in the best interest of the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, job, and way of life.”

Preliminary Trump Administration budget numbers leaked last week would eviscerate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – the popular and successful federal program to clean up toxic pollution, reduce runoff, control invasive species and restore habitat – from $300 million to $10 million, a 97 percent cut. This cut comes, even though President Trump’s campaign pledged to support Great Lakes restoration investments in September 2016. In addition to cuts to Great Lakes programs, the budget also contained drastic cuts to other critical programs and even the elimination of programs such as the EPA’s environmental justice office.

The preliminary budget was the latest in series of actions that could undermine Great Lakes restoration efforts. Over the last three weeks the Trump Administration has:

  • Proposed slashing funding for core Great Lakes programs by 97 percent;
  • Recommended cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 25 percent;
  • Indefinitely postponed the release of a study needed to bolster defenses against invasive Asian carp; and,
  • Issued an executive order asking federal agencies to review the Clean Water Rule to determine whether to revise or rescind it.

“These actions have real impacts on local communities,” said Joy Mulinex, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and director of government relations, Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “Federal investments are producing results, but serious threats remain. Cutting successful programs will not save the federal government one penny, because projects will only get more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.

President Trump is scheduled to release the final proposed budget the week of March 13. That week, as part of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition’s annual fly-in to Washington, D.C., more than 100 Great Lakes advocates will be meeting with members of Congress to talk about successful restoration efforts. Over the past three years, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress have beaten back attempts to cut Great Lakes programs.

“Congress controls the purse strings, and we have been fortunate to have strong Great Lakes champions on both sides of the aisle,” said Chad Lord, policy director, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Now, more than ever, it will be important for Great Lakes senators and representatives to support Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts and defend the policies and agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency that are the foundation for clean water. Every single person in the United States deserves access to affordable, clean, safe drinking water, beaches that are safe to swim in and fish that are safe to eat.”

Learn more about the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.

Effigy Mounds, Great River Road Bluffs, Rare Lizard Habitat Protected

Effigy Mounds

View from Tweeds Bluff

CRAWFORD COUNTY, WIS – Land ownership that dates to the Civil War, Native American effigy mounds, scenic bluffs on the Great River Road, and habitat for a rare lizard. These are some of the features of the latest land protection effort by Mississippi Valley Conservancy and Tweed family members who have permanently protected their land south of Ferryville.

According to the landowners, while the 29-acre property has been in the family since the Civil War, it used to be a much larger farm, over 800 acres in size. But some was sold during the Great Depression. The seven Tweed siblings, the children of John and Gertrude Tweed, all grew up there. A cabin built sometime in the late 1930s remains along with a history of working farmland, beekeeping for honey, and many memories.

Abbie Church, MVC conservation director, said that the project started with MVC in 2010 with a meeting outside of the cabin. All seven siblings — Jane Johnson and Marie Tweed, both of La Crosse, Nancy Dale of Stoddard, and those who have since passed away, Joyce Morrison, Robert Tweed, June Lindevig and Gladys Tweed — were interested in seeing the land protected.

Bluffs

View of Tweeds Bluff

Carol Abrahamzon, MVC executive director, said “Under this conservation agreement, the Conservancy accepts the responsibility of ensuring that the landowner’s wishes are honored now and forever. Those wishes include preserving the land and preventing future subdivision, development and mining, all while the land remains in private ownership.”

In view of traffic on both Highway 35 and 171, the property is within a designated “Important Bird Area” and one of North America’s primary migratory bird flyways. The Great River Road, Highway 35, was voted the “prettiest drive in the US” and is Wisconsin’s only designated National Scenic Byway. The wildlife habitat on the Tweed’s land includes dry prairie, oak savanna, rock cliffs and oak woodlands. Scenic views of their bluffland will be preserved in perpetuity and enjoyed by travelers on both the highway and the Mississippi River.

Jane Johnson said when the agreement was completed recently, “I am very enthused about conserving the land. It is a beautiful piece of property.”

Lizard

Five-lined skink

Two Native American effigy mounds overlook the Mississippi River on the land and are associated with the Late Woodland culture (AD 400-1100), according to archaeologists.

The rare lizard found there is the five-lined skink. Church said the skink is brightly colored, black with yellow stripes and a bright blue tail. “They live in oak barrens and prairie areas adjacent to oak woodlands. On the Tweed property they are up in the southwest-facing remnant prairie.” She said it was the first site the Conservancy has protected with a skink population.

Driftless Area Land Conservancy Earns National Recognition

Strong Commitment to Public Trust and Conservation Excellence

At a time of political change, one thing is clear: Americans overwhelmingly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 2001 Driftless Area Land Conservancy (“Driftless”), one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States, has been doing just that for the people of Southwest Wisconsin.

Now Driftless is pleased to announce it has achieved national recognition, joining a network of only 372 accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work.

To be accredited demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation in Southwest Wisconsin,” said Mike Van Sicklen, Driftless’ board president. “Financial supporters, conservation partners and landowners should all feel comfort in the knowledge that we’re a strong, ethical and fiscally responsible organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program.

Driftless Executive Director, David Clutter, and his son are seen here at the 220-acre Erickson Conservation Area in Argyle Wisconsin, which is open for public enjoyment.

Driftless had to provide extensive documentation and undergo a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation application. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that Driftless Area Land Conservancy’s lands will be protected forever. Over the past 16 years Driftless has conserved 42 different sites covering nearly 7,000 acres of farms, forests and natural areas, including the 220-acre Erickson Conservation Area in Argyle Wisconsin, open for public enjoyment.

Over the years Driftless has also conserved unique historic lands and resources like the Thomas Stone Barn outside of Barneveld, high quality trout streams, productive farmland, critical wildlife habitat for declining grassland birds and endangered species, old-growth woods and native remnant prairies, massive rock outcrops and geological features, and lands that provide buffer unique Wisconsin River backwaters that support threatened and engaged fish.

“It is exciting to recognize Driftless Area Land Conservancy with this distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Accredited land trusts are united behind strong ethical standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever. Accreditation recognizes Driftless Area Land Conservancy has demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

The National Land Trust Census, released December 1, 2016 by the Land Trust Alliance, shows that accredited land trusts have made significant achievements.

  • Accredited land trusts protected five times more land from 2010 to 2015 than land trusts that were not yet accredited.
  • Accredited land trusts also have stronger systems and more resources to steward and defend their conservation lands forever.
  • As a result, the public’s trust in land conservation has increased helping to win support for federal, state and local conservation funding measures.

A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits are detailed at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About the Driftless Area Land Conservancy

Driftless Area Land Conservancy’s purpose is to maintain and enhance the health, diversity and beauty of Southwest Wisconsin’s natural and agricultural landscape through permanent land protection and restoration, and improve people’s lives by connecting them to the land and to each other.

A student birding on one of the properties that is protected by Driftless and free for the public to enjoy.

About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. Based in Washington, D.C., and with several regional offices, the Alliance represents about 1,000 member land trusts nationwide.

The Alliance’s leadership serves the entire land trust community—our work in the nation’s capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; our education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and our comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities. Connect with us online at www.landtrustalliance.org.

This blog post was copied from Driftless Area Land Conservancy’s blog



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