About our chapter
The Prairie Bluff Chapter has its roots in the Wisconsin Prairie Enthusiasts (WPE), a non-profit, prairie-oriented group formed in the Monroe, WI area around 1986. About the same time a twin organization formed in southwestern Wisconsin, called the Southwest Wisconsin Prairie Enthusiasts. The friends & members of these groups overlapped, and they each worked to protect prairie remnants in their respective areas. The organizations held a united, honorary banquet each year.
WPE was composed of regular folks throughout the community. The newsletter for WPE was published at Applied Ecological Services, Inc., an environmental consulting firm whose owner, Steve Apfelbaum, was a founding member and contributor to WPE. In those days many of the active members were employees of AES. When business at AES began to accelerate, work obligations consumed the volunteers' time until WPE entered a state of accidental slumber.
In 1993 the Southwest Wisconsin Prairie Enthusiasts took the lead. They reorganized into The Prairie Enthusiasts. WPE reconstituted to become a local chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts under name "Prairie Bluff Chapter". (This is also the time the Empire Sauk Chapter came into being.) Our official chapter 'germination' was therefore on Sunday, February 14, 1993. We continue to serve an area along Wisconsin's southern border composed of Rock, Green, and Lafayette counties. We are one of at least nine chapters of TPE in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota.
Land Description of Our Part of Wisconsin
Most of the land in the Prairie Bluff area (Rock, Green, and Lafayette counties) was glaciated around 10,000 years ago. The crushing movement of the ice sheets and the eventual flowage of glacial melt-waters is what created the familiar landform that we have today. The terrain is generally flat to rolling and undulates leisurely over many miles from about 700' to about 1050' above sea level. Broad fertile plains are creased by relatively slow moving steams. Owing partly to this smoothed-out topography, the region was assimilated into agriculture and development immediately upon European advent (once the native people were removed) c. 1840. Most of the original prairie, savanna, and woodland communities were wiped out within a few decades. The name Prairie Bluff was chosen because the prairie remnants we search for and admire are often found clinging to untillable, rocky bluffs; though bluff may be an optimistic a word for such a placid topography.