The Nature Conservancy: grassland conservation in SW Wisconsin

thomsonprairie.jpgThe Wisconsin and Minnesota Chapters of The Nature Conservancy are working to protect and restore prairie landscapes in agricultural settings. Energy production is poised to transform the ecology and economy of these landscapes. The Conservancy’s role is to align bioenergy? production with conservation goals such as prairie restoration and maintaining large contiguous areas of grass for habitat for uncommon birds. The Conservancy is using gifts from Alliant Energy Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society to plant grasslands? and manage remnant prairie in key landscapes of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

In Wisconsin, the Conservancy is focusing efforts on the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area (MRPHA). The MRPHA stands out in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest as a distinct combination of resources including exceptional populations of grassland birds, a high number of prairie remnants, notable concentrations of rare plants and animals, extensive surrogate grasslands and spring-fed streams - all set within a working agricultural landscape. The MRPHA encompasses 95,000 acres in western Dane, Iowa and Green counties in southwestern Wisconsin.

This fall the Conservancy will convert 50 acres of crop land to native prairie at the Thomson memorial Prairie preserve near Blue Mounds in Iowa County. The Conservancy also used gift funds for three plantings by private landowners on over 150 acres of land within the MRPHA. Working with The Prairie Enthusiasts and Pheasants Forever, the Conservancy expects to plant more than 200 additional acres in the MRPHA through 2012. To support conservation goals, the Conservancy is funding a landowner outreach specialist in the MRPHA project area to encourage landowners and assist them in connecting with existing conservation programs that provide financial incentives, such as the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

The Conservancy expects their projects within the MRPHA will demonstrate the potential of grasslands and grass-based biomass? produced from them to provide ecological and economic benefits. In a true win-win situation, the Conservancy envisions revenue from bioenergy markets supporting additional restoration projects in Wisconsin.

Anerobic Digestion and Biogas

UW Extension have created seven modules focused on the use of anaerobic digestion technologies. Details of the process are introduced, as well as factors that influence start-up, operation and control of anaerobic digesters at different scales.

Contact Us:


Carol Williams
(608) 890-3858 (office)
(515) 520-7494 (mobile)
Department of Agronomy
1575 Linden Dr.
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

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Use of contour buffer strips in commodity crop systems in southwestern Wisconsin helps reduce soil loss and traps nutrients on slopes. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.