News & Events
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Friday May 17, 7:30 PM: Frog Field Trip
Meet little critters that make a big noise! Bring the kids to learn about, hear, see and catch frogs and toads. Visit our homepage for more details.
Monday June 10 through Friday June 14: Driftless Explorers Club
Kids ages 6-11 will participate in five days of hikes, games, crafts, stories, and plenty of supervised free play for your child to explore, imagine, and have fun in nature! For more details or to register, download the registration form.
A Place for You and Your Family to Connect to Nature, Anytime
Everyone deserves to have a place where they can connect with nature, in their own way, on their own time and at their own pace.
We are excited to announce that, for the first time, Driftless Area Land Conservancy is providing you with such a place – the 220-acre Erickson Wetlands just outside the Village of Argyle.
Thanks to our supporters and the generosity of the Erickson family, the public will be able to hike, fish, ski, hunt, trap and enjoy this special place for generations to come. It will also serve as an outstanding outdoor classroom for the adjacent K-12 school.
This property is open and free to explore year-round. We can’t wait for you to visit!
The Erickson Wetlands provides wonderful opportunities to observe and experience wildlife. It contains multiple sloughs and oxbow lakes, over a mile of Pecatonica River frontage, native wetland vegetation, a grove of majestic 100-year-old oak trees, nesting Sandhill Cranes, and a resident Bald Eagle.
The Erickson family has been part of the Argyle community for over a century, and their generosity through a bargain sale has not only given them great pleasure and peace of mind, but created a permanent legacy.
Mary Erickson shared that this was “Alex’s dream for the property . . . he’s so happy it will be open to the school and public to use and enjoy.” We look forward to telling you more about Alex and Mary Erickson, their family, and the property in upcoming communications.
We are very pleased to let you know that we can now assist more landowners and communities and increase our programs for kids, thanks to our newest staff person.
Katie Abbott joined our team as full-time Land Protection Associate. Katie brings outstanding skills and experience to our organization and we’re looking forward to introducing her to you at upcoming outings and events.
Her story is similar to many of ours. She grew up exploring the countryside with her siblings and developed a fascination with the natural world.
Early on she realized her passions and earned a BS in biology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a MS in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota. After serving for a year as an intern at a nature preserve in Sauk County she became the project coordinator for the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area partnership (MRPHA) and has served in that capacity for the past 6 years.
She looks forward to contributing her strengths to the team, learning new skills, and continuing to work with landowners to conserve the very special places throughout Southwest Wisconsin.
Please join me in welcoming Katie to the Conservancy!
We're very excited to report that in partnership with Barbara Smith and her family, we were able to permanently protected Barb's beautiful 58-acre property in Lafayette County. Located just north of Argyle, Wisconsin this special place contains rare remnant prairie and oak savanna, and associated pasturelands. Considered one of the most threatened plant communities on the planet, Wisconsin's total acreage of oak savannas today is less than one one-hundredth of 1% of the pre-settlement area. In addition, native prairies cover less than one-tenth of one percent of Wisconsin's pre-settlement acreage. Thankfully Barb and her family's commitment to conservation will assure the permanent protection of some of the rarest natural communities in Wisconsin, and the world.
The conservation easement will also provide water quality benefits to Brennan Creek -- which flows just south of the property -- and the Pecatonica River. However, beyond these natural resource benefits, one of Barb's most significant contributions to conservation is the land ethic that she has instilled in her children and grandchildren. Though she and her family actively invest in and steward this important property the land ethic that Barb has passed on will have effects far beyond this single parcel, and for that we are especially grateful. We'd like to thank them all for their land legacy, commitment to conservation and for creating a brighter future for our children.
On the north side of Highway 18/151, between Mount Horeb and Barneveld, Blue Mound State Park rises in the distance. In the fall season, the red, yellow and orange tones of the oaks and maples turn this imposing ancient mountain into a leafy patch quilt of color. Less apparent, on the south side of this same stretch of highway, is a collection of nearly 5,000 acres of permanently protected lands, including a recent 449.5 acre addition by Driftless Area Land Conservancy.
With funding assistance from USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service's Farm & Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture's Purchase of Agricultural Easements Program (PACE)(1) – and critical bridge loans provided by The Peoples Community Bank and DALC board member Jim O'Brien (and his wife Rumi) – Driftless Area Land Conservancy permanently protected the 449.5 acre Kirch family farm, linking over 4 square miles of adjacent protected lands! That's roughly 2,695 acres – an area more than twice the size of nearby Blue Mound State Park.
This amalgam of protected properties lie within the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area (MRPHA) – a unique region recognized for its exceptional populations of grassland birds, high concentrations of rare plants, animals and spring-fed streams, and significant number of prairie remnants . . . all set within a functioning agricultural landscape. Since 2004 nine organizations, including Driftless Area Land Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, The Prairie Enthusiasts, private landowners and other Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area partner organizations have been working together to protect productive farmland, ancient prairies, beautiful oak savannas and the host of rare, threatened and endangered species that depend upon these habitats.
With the addition of the Kirch property, Driftless Area Land Conservancy now holds easements on over 2,000 acres in this immediate area, most of which comprise working farmland and remnant prairie. Our thanks go out to our local, state and federal partners, as well as The Peoples Community Bank, Jim and Rumi O'Brien, and, of course, Nick Kirch. Private landowners like Nick are creating a lasting land legacy that they should all be proud of. This project is an example of private lands conservation at its best. Farming has always been at the heart of our way of life in this region and we're proud and very pleased to have the opportunity to work in partnership with the agricultural community.
(1) - Due to policy changes at the state level, the PACE program no longer has funding for projects beyond the first round…of which Kirch was a part.