Spring, beautiful springtime has arrived and we are moving quickly into summer. Flowers are blooming and color has returned to our landscapes. In farming regions, crop color has returned and also the diverse habitats of native landscapes. In an effort to restore natural ecosystems, Wisconsin potato farmers along with the International Crane Foundation of Baraboo, WI have formed a collaboration to manage participating farms as whole ecosystems.
Each spring growers identify areas on their farms that have restoration potential. Farmers document areas where the restoration of natural ecosystems, including grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands, can be achieved. This typically occurs on field edges, unproductive areas, or in areas of existing remnants of native plant communities. In Central Wisconsin, this work is often focused on re-establishing native grassland with perennial flowers and native grasses. The dry sand prairies with short grasses were the original grass cover of the Central Sands region.
If done correctly, native restorations can conserve rare plants, improve habitat for declining grassland birds (such as meadowlark, bobolink, and grasshopper sparrows), and provide habitat for Wisconsin’s prairie-associated reptiles and amphibians. Perennial plant communities also benefit the soil, water, and the aesthetics of the local region. (more…)