Driftless Prairies: Native Habitat Restoration

Nature inspires awe!


We all know the damaged non-native invasive species do. They exclude our native species — insects, plants, animals and other biota – reducing biodiversity, reducing crop yields, reducing recreational enjoyment of our waters, and lowering land values.  [Read more…]

Rotational grazing

“Is it easier to get more land or improve production of land you already have?” This is the first question Gene Schriefer at the Iowa County Extension office asks when talking with livestock owners. As I researched this article, the consensus is rotational grazing will reward those who apply it. [Read more…]

Karst and Groundwater: What does this mean to you?

The Karst Workshop offered by the Lafayette County Conservation and Zoning Office on March 30, 2017 was a full house with around 65 attendees. Two important points were conveyed to the audience: an understanding of what a karst landscape means and how this affects your well and drinking water. [Read more…]

Insect Overwintering

As winter nears, I look forward to my “long winter’s nap” where I catch up on reading, writing, various research projects, and processing photography. It’s generally a bit slower pace of life and I ready for it as the days grow shorter and chillier. [Read more…]

Soil Testing and Restoration

This is a guest blog written by Beau Larkin and Ylva Lekberg. Jim and I were excited they chose our property as one of their research sites.

Often prairie restoration is to change agricultural fields into native prairie habitat. We can evaluate progress by comparing the restored plant community to a remnant prairie. It is relatively easy to measure this with plant communities, but this does not reveal what has happened belowground. [Read more…]

Seed Sourcing for Restoration in a Changing Climate

I had the opportunity to attend a Seed Sourcing Symposium at the Chicago Botanic Gardens on June 13. It was an important meeting and just the beginning of a very important discussion. The meeting moved from historical aspects of seed sourcing to current day projects to needed future actions. As promised, the day led to more questions than answers. I was surprised to learn organizations, government entities, and large institutions were focusing and directing resources to this topic. I’ll provide some highlights from the speakers. Check out the Native Seed and Plant Sourcing paper for indepth information on this topic.  [Read more…]

Common St Johnswort – Hypericum perfolatum

Common St Johnswort (Hypericum perfolatum) is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is also known as Klamath weed, goatweed, and dotted St Johnswort. This last common name is because the leaves are dotted. It was first discovered in the U.S. in 1793 at Pennsylvania. It was introduced as a garden ornamental. How many invasives can you name that were introduced in this manner? It is considered a noxious weed in 7 states in the U.S. As with many non-natives, Common St Johnswort has no substantiated value for wildlife as food or as cover. In fact, it is dangerous to most livestock and birds have not been found to feed on the fruiting parts either. [Read more…]

Insects and Milkweed

Authors: Marci Hess and MJ Hatfield

Insects and milkweed plants have been a topic of much conversation lately. It is wonderful that monarchs and their corresponding host plants, milkweeds, are getting the attention and grant money they deserve. Yet there are a number of insects that utilize milkweeds and depend on them for various reason; many of these are less well known by the general public. By planting, encouraging and appreciating milkweeds, folks will be helping these insects, too. [Read more…]

Oxeye Daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare

Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is a perennial, herbaceous, non-native plant growing 1 to 3 feet tall with showy white flowers. It was introduced from Europe as an ornamental plant and as seeds contaminating cereal crops. It has spread profusely across the world and is a non-native in 40 countries and every state in the U.S. Oxeye daisies survives in a wide variety of soil types, climates, and other environmental conditions. Frost and drought do not affect this plant. [Read more…]

Operation Fresh Start and Trout Unlimited

This article appeared in the May 5, 2016 Pectonica Valley Leader newspaper. I’ve transcribed it here as well as included a photo of the article.

By Gary McKenzie

Blanchardville couple Jim and Marci Hess are active members in Southern Wisconsin’s Trout Unlimited and the duo helped coordinate a recent effort – bringing in some extra able-bodied help in a river valley restoration maintenance project taking place – and continuing, approximately 6,5 miles north of Blanchardville in the “Kittleson Valley” region that’s near the Hwy H and Hwy 78 N intersection. [Read more…]