Celebrating conservation on private lands
September 11, 2017
Monroe county landowner, Don Nelson shared his conservation project with interested landowners. Photo courtesy of Doreen Pfost.
On August 25 and 26 2017, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. The celebration provided landowners an opportunity to tell their stories, and for other landowners to learn about how the program can help them achieve their conservation goals. Tom Melius, Midwest Regional Director; Charlie Blair, National Wildlife Refuge Regional Chief; and Sergio Pierluissi, Partners Program Regional Coordinator attended the celebration to talk with landowners, learn about their projects and witness collaborative conservation in central Wisconsin.
The “hook” for one Adams County family was a desire to attract Karner blue butterflies to the farm handed down from their grandfather. A Taylor County landowner wanted to improve habitat for deer, ruffed grouse and American woodcock on his forty acres. His reason? He wanted a place to hunt with his son. Monroe and Jackson County landowners work to re-establish savannas by drastically thinning trees so that the sunlight can once again reach the ground. A Juneau County landowner restores wetlands through the use of ditch plugs, scrapes and water control structures.
As landowners talked with each other, friendships began to bud around common interests. Conservation partners, such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Pheasants Forever, brought displays and talked to attendees about their resources for landowners. The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and the Ruffed Grouse Society gave presentations as well. Buddy Huffaker of the Aldo Leopold Foundation saw the connections between these landowners and Leopold’s Land Ethic.
On Friday, attendees and landowners visited a wetland restoration project and upon their return to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge visitor center, landowner Donna Justin, Melius and monarch Biological Technician, Tenlea Turner, tagged and released a monarch butterfly in support of our recent Save the Monarch initiative.
Each landowner commented on the Partners Program as being instrumental in giving them the motivation, knowledge and the encouragement to take on tasks that they might not have otherwise done. Landowner Beth Jones commented, “I’m re-energized now!” and her husband Mark Jones declared “I have a clear understanding now of the Partners Program, how it fits into USFWS and other conservation agency programs and what the possibilities are for landowners”. The event concluded with Pierluissi telling landowners and attendees that his perspective was different from theirs—that landowners’ commitment to improving habitat keeps his motivation going.
Attendees expressed interest in networking with each other and we hope this idea takes hold and grows into a landowner friends group. Such a group might visit each other's projects, offer each other help, exchange ideas, swap prairie seed to increase diversity, or encourage other landowners to get involved. Who knows where these “spirited conservationists” might go!
Many were involved in making this event a success and a big thank you is owed to the Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Monroe County Land and Water Conservation Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.
This restored wetland is an example of a conservation project initiated by a Wisconsin landowner and completed with assistance from our Partners Program. Photo by USFWS.