On Sunday, biodiversity conservationist, writer, environmental historian, Curt Meine, took me through the Badger Lands Project facilitated by the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance. It is a spectacular example of how how biocultural land restoration can bring together diverse partners and begin to heal long-standing wounds in a rural community.
Today the Ho-chunk nation, Wisconsin DNR, descendants of early Anglo farmer-homesteaders, the USDA Dairy Forage Resource Center, the Bluffview Sanitary District, the Savannah Institute and University of Wisconsin are all playing roles in restoring over 7300 acres of a landscape which was taken over by the military in 1942 for a munitions production facility. The native hunters and immigrant farmers who lost access to those lands and now back in the co-management and restoration activities in the Sauk Prairie area. Curt took me to see a nursery of cuttings taken from more than 100 surviving apple trees that were on lands once farmed by over 25 families before they were displaced.
Now the descendants of those farmers have helped my old friends Dan Bussey, Curt Meine, and Director Charlie Luthin graft those cuttings onto rootstock, and plant them in the nursery for later transplanting into a heritage orchard that will honor the historic farming families. The Ho-Chunk are keenly interested in the native plants and game of the area, long within their ancestral territory.
We need to HEAR MORE STORIES of WIN-WIN INITIATIVES such as the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance, that works in the Eco-Tone between the Driftless Region, and the Baraboo Hills.
–Gary Paul Nabhan