Empire-Sauk Chapter Update

Small seeds planted lead to bigger things. At the end of June, Ian Michel, an employee from Diederich Tree Care LLC participated in a tour of Moely Prairie led by the stewardship team of Amy & Rick Chamberlin, Paul Anderson, and Brandon Mann. Apparently, Ian was impressed enough to report back to the owner of the company, Slater Diederich, that there were exciting things happening out on the prairie. Soon afterwards we were approached by Slater with an offer of a days' worth of work pro bono to assist our efforts. After some internal discussion and meeting with Slater in person, we decided that removal of a large, declining cottonwood tree at Schluckebier Sand Prairie and a few smaller trees leaning heavily across the south boundary at Moely Prairie would fit the bill for a days' worth of work. 

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Discovering Allen Creek Fen

Kim Karow wrote this piece before she passed away in August 2020. The Prairie Enthusiasts, and the Glacial Prairie chapter, hope to honor Kim's life and legacy by sharing her work. This is a story that reveals a different way of thinking and engaging in a landscape, by watching and learning how others engage in meaningful participation. 

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Reflections on Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources State Natural Area Strategy

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently published A State Natural Area [SNA] Strategy(1). Here I discuss one aspect of the Strategy that I applaud—the development of a formal procedure for SNA withdrawal. This is something that the conservation community needs to be talking about more. Challenges facing natural areas are increasing and changing, and some have already lost the characteristics that first merited their designation. Climate change is exerting pressure on natural communities, but passive neglect is a clear, if not dominant problem for natural communities that are fire-dependent. Frequently burned and otherwise well-stewarded sites are holding up quite well despite our present climate already departing significantly from what it was 200 years ago. Ignoring degradation of sites suffering from fire exclusion and general lack of stewardship only misleads the public and misrepresents what natural areas are. Our SNAs should be the places where we take ourselves and others on pilgrimage to receive inspiration that our best prairies, savannas, woodlands, forests, and wetlands freely give. This is fundamental to why many of us who work and/or volunteer in conservation do what we do. That inspiration has the power to compel others to join us in having a more reciprocal relationship to the land.

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November 2021 Update From NIPE

Lonetree Farm, in rural Stockton, Illinois, gets busy this time of year with NIPE’s prairie seed mixes. Staff and volunteers spend hours picking native plant seeds from area prairies and savannas, separating seeds from the rest of the plant, drying seeds, and then sorting into their proper mixes for seeding and overseeding elsewhere.

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Voices of Moely Prairie featured on Nature Revisited Podcast

Moely Prairie has had a presence on Instagram (@moelyprairie) and Facebook (For the Love of Moely Prairie) for the last several years, and during that time, my fellow volunteers and I have connected with many nature lovers around the world. One follower who I have come to know quite well is Stefan van Norden, the producer of a podcast called Nature Revisited. Earlier this spring, he asked if I would be open to doing a podcast about Moely Prairie. At first, I was a bit hesitant; my family and I have only been doing prairie restoration for about 5 years, and although we have certainly learned a lot about prairies in that time, we still don’t feel like we qualify as “experts” to speak with authority about prairie restoration. 

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Blue Sky Botany - Goldenrods

The baffling goldenrods swim in that giant taxonomic pool of asters, sunflowers, and thistles (Asteraceae). Their tiny, sun-emitting yellow-orange flowers are aggregated into marvelous “inflorescences” that appear to the uninitiated as single large blooms, whose growth forms are variously described as feather dusters, candles, or flattops. They are beloved by late summer insects, especially bees, and people with bee binoculars. Identification practice makes perfect.

There are too many for one article; I present a few that I have photos for. 

(Photos and article by Rob Baller)

 

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Keeping Prairies in the News

We are excited to share this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article and the mention of The Prairie Enthusiasts below:

Wisconsin's prairies shine in late summer, from Lapham Peak to the UW Arboretum
by Chelsey Lewis
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 19, 2021

As August winds down, the flowers in my home garden are nearing the end of their seasonal lifespan.

But here at Lapham Peak, yellow prairie dock and compass plant shoot into the sky, leaning toward the bright late-summer sun like miniature sunflowers. The goldenrod has just begun to bloom, its feathery yellow stalks peppering the hillsides. The wispy purple spikes of blazing stars are beginning to open, bees buzzing around them in search of pollen. A patch of black-eyed Susans are in full bloom, while a few yellow coneflowers hold on to their delicate yellow petals. Even the big bluestem grasses are getting in on the action, small buds emerging from the tips of their 6-foot-tall stalks.

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Blue Sky Botany - Blazing Stars

Here are the four Liatris species most likely to be seen on our beloved Wisconsin prairie remnants. All are members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). All have tiny pink to magenta flowers bundled into ‘floral cups’, with outer bracts on those cups that form layers like shingles, and positively identify the species. Good eyesight is helpful. All species bloom from the bottom upwards. They are discussed here in their order of seasonal blooming.

 

 

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Member Survey Directs Planning Efforts in 2022

Click here to complete the 2021 Member Survey online. 

As we prepare to create a new vision for our future, we come to you, our prairie community, to ask for your advice and guidance. You have played an important role in our story, and we will need your help to write the next chapter.

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Native Pollinators Presentation

Some attendees trying to determine a species of native bumblebee  (Photo & article by Susan Lipnick)

On June 27, biologist Bev Paulan treated Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts members and guests to the presentation “Native Plants Need Native Pollinators” at The Prairie Enthusiasts Hanley Savanna in rural Hanover, Illinois. The event, originally scheduled for late June 2020 but postponed because of COVID, was well worth the wait.

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