Tom's Blog

Friday, August 17, 2012

Visit by Blue Mounds Area Project

Thursday evening we had a nice visit from folks of the Blue Mounds Area Project (BMAP). This is a community-based organization that seeks to "inspire, inform and empower private landowners in the Southwestern Wisconsin region to enjoy, protect and restore native biodiversity and ecosystem health." The Project has assisted over 130 landowners in Southwest Wisconsin to manage and restore their properties for native species.

Kathie and I were charter members of this organization, which was founded by Brian Pruka in 1996. In fact, we worked with Brian even before BMAP was formed, since he provided the first management plan for what would become Pleasant Valley Conservancy. Brian also provided us with the first plant species list for PVC, an especially valuable restoration tool since it was prepared before any new planting or other restoration work had been done.

Pruka's original concept, which still drives BMAP, was to create a membership organization involving private landowners. The Project would provide a knowledgeable ecologist (somewhat like an "extension" agent) to work directly with landowners on a one-to-one basis. The Project was initially funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board to Community Conservation Consultants, and through the years has had other substantial grants. The Project is now an independent tax-deductible entity with a board of directors.

 During the first year Pruka consulted with over 20 landowners. Each consultation included walking the land with the owners and pointing out specific plants, animals and natural communities which occurred on the lands visited. Discussions included how a landowner could enhance some of these desired species or habitats.  A written report was provided which included recommendations for restoration work.

When Pruka moved on, ecologist Bob Wernerehl took over and greatly expanded the work with private landowners. The Project has continued to follow this model and every growing season employs an ecologist.

Other major activities of the Project include educational lectures in the winter, and visits to the land of members.

It was in this latter category that last night's visit took place. Kathie led the group on a tour through the upper savanna area. Fortunately, enough rain had fallen over the past few weeks (including 0.5" Thursday morning) so that the vegetation looked nice and lush.

After the tour, the group enjoyed an excellent potluck dinner at our small field station/cabin.


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