Enjoy this opportunity to see what other landowners are accomplishing on their properties. We'll begin at 9:30 that morning at the Dworschack property in Soldiers Grove, WI. We plan to leave there at 11:30 to go on to the Adams property for a picnic and tour. At 1:30 we will move on to spend the rest of the afternoon at the adjoining Nee and Jennings sites near Richland Center. We are looking at a full and most interesting day! This is a Wisconsin Land Trust Days event.
Directions: We will meet at 48244 Norwegian Hollow Road, Soldiers Grove, WI. The second site is at 14462 County Road H, Soldiers Grove, WI. The third site is at 31354 County Road JJ, Richland Center (the fourth site is next door).
What to bring: Pack your own lunch. With questions you may contact Jack Kussmaul at [email protected] or 608-988-4309. The day of the tour he may be reached at 608-778-5299 (wherever there is cell reception).
The first visit will be a two-part tour. We will start by visiting the owner's extensive antique Nash collection. These date from 1918 and continue through the Nash Ramblers of the 1960’s. There are other older cars in the collection as well. We will then tour his natural restoration project. It is an easy walk to a 2 or 3 acre oak savanna restoration. The area was grazed and the owner has been focused on removing non-fire tolerant understory. Most interesting are two goat prairies that can be reached by a short climb. Seeds have not been introduced so that the owner can see what is there, and his findings have included New Jersey Tea, Cylindrical Blazing Star and Fringed Gentian.
The owner of our second stop has been working on several acres since he scattered the first seed (Big Bluestem and Indian Grass) in 1971. There are 7 or 8 acres total in remnant or restored prairie. He is doing savanna work in another 2 to 4 acres.
The entrance to the third property is just east of the line of pine trees on the east side of Button Cemetery. The owner writes of the site: "Button Bluff is the middle hill in a group of three south-facing Wisconsin River valley bluffs between Lone Rock and Gotham. This in recent history has had the best bluff prairie of the three, and is now the largest bluff prairie between Gotham and the Nature Conservancy's Spring Green Preserve. The bluff prairie occupies only a very small area of my 60-acre tract which is otherwise mostly oak forest. The top of the bluff features two conical mounds now hidden in the woods, but indicate that the ridgetop was also open prairie or savanna a thousand years ago. Restoration was begun by removing red cedar from the largest prairie area in January, 2017, and work has proceeded on the smaller prairie patches since then. The bluff prairie has now been burned for the first time since the 1930s or before. Vigorous growth of blackcap raspberry and Amur honeysuckle is a problem where the shade from red cedar was dense enough and over such a long time that few native prairie species survived. At the same time, a 1-acre former soybean field on the flat at the base of the bluff has been seeded to a prairie mix; it has not been burned, but has been mowed several times."
When this visit has been completed, we will go next door to the Jennings property. He has 35 acres he purchased in 2003. He has been doing restoration and feels the work is 65% completed. At the farm, we will see an 8-acre farm field that has been converted into a vibrant prairie, a south-facing bluff prairie and associated rock-outcropping overlooking the Wisconsin River Valley, two restored oak savannas with a combination of mature and early generation oaks, a stand of shagbark hickory trees at the top of the bluff, and two areas that have been cleared of black locust trees and invasive weeds and are being converted into an extension of the prairie.