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June News & Updates

July Marks Start of Land Trust Days

Celebrate summer with your favorite conservation organizations across the state! Coordinated by Gathering Waters, Wisconsin's Alliance for Land Trusts, Land Trust Days is an annual celebration of land conservation, with events in July, August, and September. Check out upcoming opportunities here from our partners near and far. Plus, stay tuned for a DALC event coming in September!

Local Legislator Learns About Land Conservation

We were delighted to get out in the Driftless recently with State Representative Jenna Jacobson and several conservation partners to share some amazing land protection projects and celebrate Wisconsin's Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program! Since 1989, this program has protected more than 600,000 acres and improved more than 1,000 parks, trails, and waterways. No matter where you live, you benefit from Knowles-Nelson! Learn more and urge your legislators to support this vital conservation program at

Introducing Jess & Ann!

There has never been a better time for schools to save hundreds of thousands of dollars through energy efficiency upgrades and by adding solar to their campuses. Throughout the summer, DALC’s “Energy Ambassadors,” Jess and Ann, will explain why this is so. Follow them on DALC's Facebook and Instagram to learn how Driftless Area schools can lower energy costs, model environmental stewardship and help create a bright future for our students!

Evenings Afield: Prescribed Burning

July's Evenings Afield event is sure to SPARK inspiration as we discuss "Prescribed Burning: The Importance of Managing with Fire!" This free event will be from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 11 at the Cates Family Farm, south of Spring Green. Presenter Jeb Barzen has conducted prescribed burns in Driftless topography for 35 years and currently chairs the Wisconsin Prescribed Fire Council. Find more details and register here.

Volunteer Opportunities

Head outside and make a difference! Join our outdoor workdays:

  • Weekends at Wild Oaks: 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. Upcoming dates: 7/6, 7/20

  • Sundays at Sardeson: 3rd Sundays of the month. Upcoming dates: 7/21

  • Wednesdays at the Wetland: 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month. Upcoming dates: 7/3, 7/17

  • Driftless Trail Workdays: 1st Sundays of the month. Upcoming dates: 7/7

Find more details and let us know you're coming at our Volunteer page.

Notes From the Field

with Zach Pacana

When I moved out to the Driftless region from Michigan about two years ago, my first impression of the land was rolling hills, scattered dairy farms, and boundless trout fishing. As it turns out, those rolling hills and spring-fed waterways house some real amazing biodiversity. Cold ditches and sandy slopes are where I ultimately spend the bulk of my time. 

Not every year is the same. Phenology isn’t static. Some years we experience a harsh drought, and other years we make up for it by getting two feet of rain in the early summer. Species native to this region have evolved to account for erratic weather. In the midst of summer during peak drought conditions, you will still find the perfoliate leaves of the cup plant clasping onto what little water exists. In those same conditions you can see colored-up brook trout kicking around in what appears to be an impossibly small amount of water – a testimony to the resiliency of spring-fed streams that are buffered on both ends by hills or prairie.

North slopes seem to be selfish and keep the trees and dominant vegetation isolated to themselves, but when you scan those steep sandy south-facing hillsides, you will begin to see some of that specialized Driftless nature. Goat prairies - as I’ve now learned to refer to them - are seemingly out of place in their Midwestern landscape… a little slice of the American Southwest here in Wisconsin. These uninviting and inhospitable landscapes are loaded with diversity. Though hiking up to the top isn’t necessarily easy, it does reveal numerous species that to a Michigander are new and exciting – who doesn’t like prickly pear and timber rattlesnakes?!

So, after spending a few seasons exploring Southwest Wisconsin, it is the cold ditches and sandy slopes that epitomize “Driftless Nature.” And while this June has been a bit hot and muggy, I do plan to take every opportunity I have to see our Driftless world in full-tilt. I encourage you to take a day to explore your Driftless backyard too.

Zach Pacana

Land Management Specialist

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