The Empire-Sauk Chapter manages and restores 39 prairie and oak savanna sites with over 1000 acres in south central Wisconsin. Our main focus is on the conservation and protection of these cherished sites. Currently we manage sites in Dane, Sauk, and eastern Iowa counties.
We work cooperatively with other environmental groups, including The Nature Conservancy, the Ice Age Trail, the Blue Mounds Area Project, the Driftless Area Land Conservancy, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. One of our principal projects involves management and restoration of preserves that are part of the Southwest Wisconsin Grassland and Stream Conservation Area (SWGSCA).
The "Empire" in our name comes from the vast Empire (or Arlington) Prairie that once occupied major parts of Dane and Columbia Counties, centered on the crossroads community of Leeds, Wisconsin. This prairie was often called "twenty mile prairie", reflecting the distance required to cross it.
Interns augment the work of volunteers, using a summer intern program open to college and university students.
Volunteers participate in all parts of the restoration process. Activities include control of invasive weeds and brush, seed collecting and planting, controlled burns, monitoring and data collection, trail maintenance, plant and animal surveys and inventories, landowner contact and outreach, guiding public tours, presentations to public groups, land protection, development of educational materials and displays, equipment maintenance, and facilities improvement (barn renovation, bridge construction, fencing, posting, etc.).
Volunteering provides unparalleled opportunities to learn about and participate in prairie, savanna, and oak woodland ecology, restoration, and management. We work year around. In the fall of the year seed collecting is a major activity. With over 250 members in the greater Madison area, we offer numerous opportunities for working and learning about prairie and oak savanna restoration.
The Empire Sauk Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts provides many different volunteer activities throughout the year.
These activities include:
- Prescribed Prairie and Savanna Burns in spring
- Weed search and removal spring and summer
- Perennial seed garden weeding and planting
- Seed collecting throughout the summer and fall
- Seed processing and cleaning
- Brush cutting late fall and winter
- Field Trips and workshops spring/summer/fall
- Equipment maintenance and repair
- Citizen Science research projects
- Special outreach events
Willis Brown, Chair
Rich Henderson, Vice Chair
Kathy Henderson, Treasurer
Amy Dubruiel, Secretary
Karen Agee, Out-going Chair
Cate Harrington, newsletter editor