Did you know that much of the greater Midwest was originally wetland and prairie? Today, estimates suggest that only about 1% of the tallgrass prairie that once existed still remains. Loss of this habitat means the loss of all the things that live there. For many, preservation of what is left is not enough. In comes restoration! Fun fact – the Nature Net member University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum is often considered the birthplace of ecological restoration, beginning in 1936 with the restoration of the tallgrass Curtis Prairie. Since then, many more restoration projects have begun across the country, helping to reintroduce and support native species. Restoration is different than simply designating an area as a preserve, as it involves hands-on intervention to create a suitable environment to bring back specific native species that used to live in that area. Restoration projects are large-scale endeavors that seek to return things to their former beauty and function. In fact, check out our ICYMI section below for an update about member Pheasant Branch Conservancy’s first year of a planned four-year restoration project!
You can read about restoration work being done by Pheasant Branch here, things the Arboretum is doing here, how you can judge land health through birds with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and watch this video below from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about their work in restoration across the country.
You can look for local ways to get involved with habitat restoration, too – when volunteer opportunities open back up to the public, the Pheasant Branch Conservatory and UW Arboretum are always looking for people to help them with projects. Other natural areas might also have stewardship days where volunteers can often help remove invasive species like buckthorn. You can also be on the lookout for invasive plant species in your own neighborhood – the Wisconsin DNR has a photo gallery of invasive plants here. Being sure not to plant aggressive non-native species in your yard will also help to prevent the spread. You can learn even more about all kinds of invasive species that can degrade natural Wisconsin habitats on the DNR’s info page.
In Case You Missed It…
- One quarter of the new addition to the Pheasant Branch Conservancy has been seeded! Learn more about the seeding process and fundraising for the next 40 acres.
- The MCM’s log cabin is being temporarily relocated to make way for the construction of the new outdoor exhibit! Learn more about the cabin and exhibit on the museum blog.
- ICF’s co-founder George Archibald has been sharing his field entries from a small wetland as the cranes return this year. Read them here and check them out on social media too!