In 2009, members of the Dunn County Fish & Game Association of Menomonie helped establish the Lower Chippewa River Basin Conservation Fund.
The fund managed by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin will provide a perpetual source of funds for state agencies to manage state lands in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. The fund now totals more than $175,000.
The 2021 disbursement from the fund totaled $5,355 and was used by the DNR’s Dunn County wildlife staff to purchase various native grass and forb seed to supplement a prairie restoration on a 103 acre field in the Dunnville Wildlife Area.
The $6,513 disbursed from the fund this year will be used in the Tiffany Wildlife Area. The funds will be used to cover contract brush mowing within managed remnant oak barrens and sand prairie units on the northern end of the property in Buffalo and Pepin counties. The brush mowing will serve to reduce the density and vigor of woody shrubs within these unit. It will also increase the effectiveness of future prescribed burns planned within these units and help to increase the spread and diversity of native forbs and grasses.
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Oak barrens and sand prairies provide excellent habitat for numerous species of wildlife. Some of the wildlife species that will benefit from this work include wild turkeys, eastern meadowlarks, northern prairie skinks and monarch butterflies. Oak barrens are a globally rare community type, and prairies now occupy less than 1% of their historic range within Wisconsin.
The Lower Chippewa River system and its associated DNR managed properties represent some of the best opportunities in the state to manage for these rare natural communities.