March begins my 4th month in my new role here at the Driftless Area Land Conservancy and I have set myself a personal goal for 2020: to visit the land and the landowners of every easement DALC has protected – that’s 48 easements in 6 counties! I’ll keep you updated on my progress and what I learn. I also look forward to getting to know each of you and learn about what excites you and concerns you about the future of the Driftless, and the most impactful role that DALC can play in our community.
This month, I got to meet Lori Neumann & Jim Sinclair, owners of our most recent conservation easement partnership. The rolling hills, ridgetops and valleys of their 188 acre property near Darlington include native forest habitat and beautiful oak openings transitioning to grasslands and active pastures. This is a place where grassland birds such as Field Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks can thrive, a suite of birds declining faster than any other in North America. In fact the mix of oak savanna, prairie and pastures across all of Southwestern Wisconsin makes our region one of the best grassland conservation opportunities in the Upper Midwest.
You are helping protect a place for grassland birds.
The native woodlands at Jim and Lori’s include Bur, Red and White Oak, Black Walnut, Basswood, Shooting Star, Maidenhair Fern and other special species. Birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals abound in these undisturbed swaths of trees and oak openings, on which they are working with their son to manage and restore.
You are helping maintain homes for woodland species.
As Jim, Lori, and I were snowshoeing across their land, I reflected that this was my 5th winter living in the Driftless Area and only the first winter in which there was enough consistent snowpack for winter recreation like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Jim told me he’s worked his whole life to knit together the contiguous habitats on his land – it’s the main reason he wanted to protect it with an easement. Managed well, this rich and diverse land will can sequester approximately 3.8 million pounds of carbon.
You are helping make the Driftless even more resilient to climate change.
Closing this easement marks the beginning of our 20th year as a land trust and we have much to celebrate. Ahead in 2020 we will work to complete easement on several more properties. We will get young people out into the fields and woods. We will start building a trail. We will develop an “Energy District” in Iowa County.
And we will protect more special land. All this and more are possible because you choose to support us financially. Let’s keep growing this community together.
The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.
- Wendell Berry