Archived entries for Hickory Hill

Ron Endres named 2016 Conservationist of the Year

Ron Endres is a private landowner and champion of native area restoration in Dane County. In addition to being a model steward to his and many of his neighbors’ lands, Ron is also an incredibly active volunteer with numerous area organizations. But what truly makes him special is far more unique. From July through December, Ron works almost every day collecting, drying and processing native forb and grass seeds to provide them free-of-charge, to local non-profits and private landowners.

Ron leading the United Way Day-Of-Caring Volunteers seed collecting

Ron leading the United Way Day-Of-Caring Volunteers seed collecting.

Ron’s land stewardship activities are truly inspirational. He has worked over the last 25 years to reconstruct a 21 acre prairie and spends much of his time maintaining the land, adding to its species diversity and fighting back invasive species. He helps many of his neighbors as well, burning their prairies, treating their invasives, and restoring their land.

Ron is also an invaluable volunteer for many area organizations such as Dane County Parks, The Prairie Enthusiasts, The Ice Age Trail Alliance, Holy Wisdom Monastery, Swamplovers, and many others. He leads school kids and adult volunteers, serves on a board, is a chain saw team member, leads prairie plantings and burns, as well as seed collection and processing.

Ron leading a prairie planting at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Ron leading a prairie planting at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

It is, however, what Ron does in addition to these stewardship and volunteer activities that makes him so unique. From July through December, Ron works almost every day collecting, drying and processing native forb and grass seeds—providing hundreds of pounds and more than 100 species of seed, free of charge, to nonprofits and private landowners each year.

Ron’s seed collecting for donation

Ron’s seed collecting for donation

From big projects like a 23 acre planting at Hickory Hill in Cross Plains, a 30 plus acre planting at Holy Wisdom Monastery, and countless acres of planting at Swamplover’s conservancy—to small projects like Kettle Pond in Madison, a municipal restoration in Beloit, and a neighborhood restoration at Odana golf course; Ron’s seeds have ended up in restorations all over the county. His unwavering commitment to native habitat restoration makes it Gathering Waters’ honor to award Ron the prestigious Conservationist of the Year award. Ron will be presented with his award at a Friends of Wisdom Prairie Dinner Lecture on November 2. Click here to learn more and register.

Nurturing At-Risk Youth Through Conservation in Dane County

What follows is an incredible example of the non-traditional partnerships being pursued by Wisconsin land trusts that are having a multi-layered impact on their communities.  Congratulations to the Natural Heritage Land Trust for being such forward-thinking leaders in the Dane County area.

Natural areas that need restoration and young people at risk both benefit from a new partnership between Natural Heritage Land Trust and Operation Fresh Start. The project is thanks, in part, to a recent $38,400 grant from the Madison Community Foundation.

The Dane County Partners for Recreation & Conservation (PARC) grant program, the other main funding source, awarded $21,700 to the joint project in May. Project partners will use the funds to make lasting improvements to protected lands in Dane County and provide job skills and a conservation education to low-income youth.

The project will employ Operation Fresh Start (OFS) crews to complete conservation and facility improvements at five sites where Natural Heritage Land Trust is working to permanently protect natural habitats and wetland features.

OFS has decades of success preparing youth struggling against poverty, school failure and other life-limiting difficulties to become self-sufficient through employment training and education programs. Work on environmental projects is part of the OFS focus on community service.

Through a partnership with Operation Fresh Start, Natural Heritage Land Trust will work with at-risk youth on their protected properties, including Westport Drumlin seen here.

Starting in the fall and winter of 2012, crews will construct fishing platforms and piers at Black Earth Creek and Lake Belle View in the Village of Belleville, and construct or reconstruct trails at Cross Plains Conservancy Parks and the Westport Drumlin State Natural Area.

The program also involves restoration work on various prairie, wetland or savanna habitats at places like Hickory Hill on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Patrick Marsh, Lake Belle View and Westport Drumlin.

Besides the conservation of cherished local landscapes, says Natural Heritage Land Trust Executive Director Jim Welsh, the joint effort will help the public enjoy and understand these exceptional and accessible natural areas.

“This project is an important chance for our two organizations to invest, along with funders, in the future of our communities,” he adds. “With the support of the Madison Community Foundation and the PARC program, Natural Heritage Land Trust and OFS can give some motivated young people hands-on experience managing natural places, possibly introducing
them to careers that involve environmental protection and the out-of-doors – a benefit to all of us and our natural heritage.”



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