Preserving a Prairie in Pictures
Preserving a Prairie in Pictures
This beautiful pictorial jounal documents the transformation of a former farm field into a prairie at a protected preserve in Wisconsin
This beautiful pictorial jounal documents the transformation of a former farm field into a prairie at a protected preserve in Wisconsin Read more
About this project
Hello, I am Michael Arny, President of Leonardo Academy a non-profit organization located in Madison, Wisconsin. I founded Leonardo Academy in 1997 to promote sustainability and environmental improvement. At Leonardo Academy we see a world filled with sustainable opportunities that can transform the way we live today and ensure the prosperity of future generations. Restoring native landscapes is one opportunity. Let's change the world together!
We will create a pictorial history of prairie restoration. Share with us through photos, blogs and webinars the process of prairie restoration of a prairie over a 4 year period. The restoration will take place on a 4 acre field along the top of a ridge on a very special piece of land, the Valley Ridge Preserve. Prairie was a prominent plant community in Wisconsin before European settlers arrived in the 1800’s. Now only 0.5% of the prairie is left.
The Valley Ridge Preserve is 145 acres located in the Driftless (non-glaciated) region in southwestern Wisconsin, near Richland Center. Multiple springs on the property feed a high quality trout stream on adjacent Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources property. Before European settlers arrived in the 1800’s, the ridges and valleys of this preserve were covered with a mix of prairie, oak savannah and mesic forest containing sugar maple and elm. At present 113 acres of the preserve is wooded and 24 acres is fields. The long range plan for the preserve is to plant the fields into prairie and restore 17 acres as oak savannah.
The property was purchased in 1970 by Edith and Deane Arny. They worked over the years to restore native landscape to this land which had been farmed and degraded for many years. The Valley Ridge Preserve was permanently protected from development in 2003 by a conservation easement through the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. It was the first property protected by this conservancy. In 2008, Edith and Deane, now 93 and 95 years old, donated the preserve to the nonprofit Leonardo Academy to manage and continue restoration of the native landscape.
The project will create a pictorial history of the restoration of a 4 acre field over a 4 year period. Your donations will support the prairie restoration and the creation of the pictorial record of the process.
Restoration begins with removal of the present plant cover, a multistep process using burning and herbicide sprays typically during the first spring and summer. Removal of competing plants is important for good establishment of the prairie species. The following spring a final spraying occurs and the prairie seeds are planted. During the first two years, the prairie plants are small and high mowing prevents the remaining weeds from forming seeds. The prairie is burned annually in the spring for several years to encourage prairie species and inhibit weeds. The pictorial history will include the steps in restoration and the progress of establishment of the prairie species.
Some prairie grasses and flowers.
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- (40 days)