Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, Inc.
March 2013

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Badger Report

From the Executive Director

Do YOU need the Southwest Badger spark?

Think of Southwest Badger as the SPARK of the resource development spark plug.  Many other organizations, public and private, are doing great conservation work in our nine county area.  It's our job to partner with these organizations to identify and fill any gaps to ensure the highest priority projects are getting done.


We're positioned to fill the gap in needs others are unable to fill. 


Maybe it's work that county or state governments don't have staff or time to do.  Maybe it's work that would spread local conservation organization volunteers too thin.  Maybe it's work that's not lucrative enough for private contractors.  Maybe it's work in places where SW Badger is more respected than any other organization. 


We're not taking away from what others are doing, but we're here to amplify their good work and ensure what needs to be done gets done.  We're the connection.  We're the spark.


Perhaps we're doing on-the-ground sampling.  Perhaps we're working with landowners to identify best practices to get what they want from their woods.  Perhaps we're coordinating a multi-county pilot that could be replicated by other areas in the state.  Perhaps we're promoting cooperation among municipalities, organizations and businesses.


Here's Where YOU Can Help!

There are many possibilities and much work that needs to be done to implement natural resource conservation, managed growth, and sustainable economic development in our area.  I know each person who reads this newsletter could identify gaps where Southwest Badger can be the spark, the connector, the spot where - if not for Southwest Badger - important things will not be done.


Think of the times you've been in a meeting and someone said, "I sure wish we could..."  Or, "the state is offering us a grant to work on our high priority area, but we just don't have the staff."  Or you're talking with a company in your county and you hear, "I wish there was research in this natural resource area."


Think about the gaps and think about Southwest Badger and whether Southwest Badger's natural resource development SPARK fits those situations.  Email or give me a call at or (608) 348-7110.


For those of you I haven't met yet, I look forward to meeting you.  A formal press release announcing my new position is the final article of this newsletter.  


I look forward to working with you!

Cara Carper

Southwest Badger Chosen as a Recipient of Design for the Greater Good
Kristin Mitchell Design is excited to announce Southwest Badger as a 2013 recipient of the Design for the Greater Good program. Non-profit organizations were invited to apply for free design services during the 2013 calendar year.


To be considered for selection, the organization's mission must align with the Kristin Mitchell Design values of community, integrity and acceptance. Also, the organization or project must impact the community or the region.   


The Design for the Greater Good program was developed as a way to give back to the community. "We've been thinking about doing something like this for the community for quite awhile," Mitchell said. "But it wasn't until the Friends of the Oak Savanna group in Mineral Point needed help to start up(supporting the savannas at the schools) that we were inspired to push through and develop a program in order to help them and other groups like them."


Keep an eye out for Southwest Badger's new look!

About Us
Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, Inc. is a community development organization serving Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa, LaCrosse, Lafayette, Richland, Sauk and Vernon counties. Our mission is to implement natural resource conservation, managed growth, and sustainable rural economic development in our area. We are a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization based out of Platteville, Wisconsin.
In This Issue
From the Executive Director
Southwest Badger Recipient of Design for the Greater Good
Forest Stewardship
Aquatic Invasive Species
Driftless Forest Network/My Wisconsin Woods
Grazing Initiatve
Southwest WI Grassland and Stream Conservation Area
Carper Named New Southwest Badger Executive Director
Join Our Mailing List!
Upcoming Events
Full Value Forestry Training   April 10, Plain, WI
Plain Green Technology 
More information at

Heating the Midwest with Renewable Biomass Conference
April 25-26, Carlton, MN
More information at

Don't let deer, rodents, or severe weather ruin your reforestation efforts. Use tree shelters to give your trees a fighting chance.
Protect Your Trees, Leave a Legacy
For additional information or to order, email us at
or call (608) 348-7110.

Southwest Badger RC&D is your conservation partner - all sales fund resource conservation in southwest Wisconsin.

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Forest Stewardship
Patrick Dayton, Forester/Project Coordinator

2013 is full of hope and anticipation for the Southwest Badger RC&D forestry stewardship program.  Last year I worked with more than 95 landowners, wrote forest management or timber stand improvement (TSI) plans for landowners on 543 acres, marked timber on 

Processor Harvester Working in a Pine Plantation in the Hills of Southwest Wisconsin

475 acres, and marked TSI work on 213 acresI taught at the Learn About Your Land series again this year, participated in a few school children outreach events, and had the opportunity to present at the Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin (IPAW) conference in La Crosse this year about our emerald ash borer project.  The emerald ash borer has begun to grow its population within the known infestation area, and we continue to find new occurrences outside the known area in Western Wisconsin.


The emerald ash borer project will come to an end this summer.  So far in the project we have marked over 1.3 million board feet and 1700 cords of wood.  We have marked 204 acres of TSI with 89 acres of that already accomplished.  The emerald ash borer project was a favorite of mine since it allowed me to work with landowners on what they wanted to accomplish while at the same time allowing me to achieve goals of the U.S. Forest Service, Wisconsin DNR, and the forestry community at-large.  And although we did not stop the borer by any stretch of the imagination, we did promote utilization of a resource, hopefully slowed-the-spread of an invasive pest, and assisted local landowners with their land stewardship.


Southwest Badger RC&D's forestry stewardship program has a record of achievement and we have good reputation with the Forest Service and our local partners.  As we move forward we will need to strengthen the bonds of working together with partners who appreciate our work and strive to prove to others who do not know us that Southwest Badger RC&D is essential and valuable.

Southwest Wisconsin Aquatic Invasive Species Planning Initiative
Don Barrette, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator

It's been a long winter and so many things have happened since our last newsletter in November 2012. Since then Don has been busy on a multitude of projects throughout the region. 


Boat Landing Signs

In early fall of 2012 Don worked with a number of agencies to install Aquatic Invasive Species boat landing signs throughout the region.  He received assistance from all nine counties served by Southwest Badger to complete this task.  Signs were installed at boat landings on the Mississippi, Wisconsin, Grant, Pecatonica, Lacrosse, Kickapoo and Platte Rivers. Signs were also installed at lake shore boat landings and other major water-ways with boating access.


Strategic Plan

Don has also been working on, and is close to completing, an aquatic invasive species strategic plan for the region. The plan will include recommendations from county and conservation professionals on rapid response if a species if found, regional funding, best management practices and other efforts to increase awareness about aquatic invasive species issues in the region.


Presentations and Events

Over the course of six months Don has traveled to many events to present his research and educate people about the dangers of aquatic invasive species.  He staffed a booth at the Madison Fishing Expo and at the Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City.  He has worked in cooperation with agencies like the River Alliance and Dane County Land and Conservation to get the aquatic invasive species message out to people. Don has done presentations and workshops at area schools on stream monitoring methods, special species of concern in the Driftless Area, and area aquatic invasive species management projects. Don will also highlight one of those projects when he presents at the Driftless Symposium in La Crosse in March 2013.


Don also realizes that networking with other aquatic invasive species professionals is an important part of being an Aquatic Invasive Species coordinator in the region.  In order to solve current issues it is necessary to stay abreast of new management techniques, so Don is continually growing his knowledge of aquatic invasive species by being involved on many fronts relating to aquatic and invasive species and water issues. Since October 2012 Don has been involved in discussions regarding trout regulations decontamination policies. He attended an annual fall Aquatic Invasive Species coordinators meeting in Stevens Point where new discoveries and best management practices are shared.       


Japanese Knotweed in Richland County

But perhaps Don's most exciting news is about the Japanese Knotweed Project in Richland County. Don has successfully coordinated an effort to control this plant on Willow Creek and assisted Richland County in securing a grant to facilitate the removal of Japanese Knotweed in the Willow Creek watershed. Don and the Richland County staff look forward to the spring when they can start removal work on the Willow Creek Japanese Knotweed Project.


For More Information

If you would like more information on the Japanese Knotweed Project on Willow Creek or others, contact Don via email or telephone at or 608-348-7114. 


Driftless Forest Network/My Wisconsin Woods
Zak Neitzel, Field Forester

2012 was my first year working as the forester for the Driftless Forest Network. My task is primarily to get uninvolved landowners aware of health issues in their woods and to help them to tackle those problems. These landowners are primarily contacted via a direct mailing campaign.


Since starting in April I have been fortunate enough to work in 9 different Wisconsin counties, basically a quarter of the state. I performed approximately 109 woods walks with landowners and developed initial, non-intensive plans for them totaling 5,391 acres. I also marked 155 acres of timber stand improvement, wrote two stewardship plans for a total of 33 acres, and marked two timber sales for a total of 20 acres. I also attended several DNR sponsored trainings.


Getting uninvolved, in many cases unmotivated, landowners to tackle the issues facing their woods has been an uphill, but rewarding battle. While many of the individual successes have been small, there have been enough of them to make a sizeable difference at the landscape level. As the project progresses, I have learned what arguments resonate best with different types of landowners, making me much more effective in the field. In 2013 I will be doing a lot more initial landowner visits, as well as helping connect those landowners who are willing to take on projects with the resources to help them accomplish their goals. 

Grazing Initiative
Dennis Rooney, Grazing Specialist

Bringing CRP Back into Grass Production

The project I have been working on since the first of the year is the Southwest Wisconsin Grazing Broker Initiative. The Grazing Broker project, funded by the Wallace Center of Winrock International, focuses on 473,000 acres of Southwest Wisconsin Grassland and Stream Conservation Area (SWGSCA). (More information below.)


As commodity prices inflate and land comes out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), renting to a cash grain farmer is an easy choice. The goal of this project is to create another option for these landowners, one that will allow land to remain in soil-conserving grassland while providing an income for both the landowner and a livestock producer. This project creates a transition for government subsidized CRP acres into income-producing agriculture without sacrificing the conservation benefits of CRP.


The Grazing Broker will help connect landowners with expiring CRP and grassland to agriculture producers looking for grazing land.  The Grazing Broker will facilitate access to government resources for developing pastures, write grazing plans, and provide technical advice to both livestock producers and non-agricultural landowners.


CRP to Grass?  Burn, Hay or Mob

This brings up the question how to bring CRP back into grass production without completely renovating the field. CRP acres often need some preparation before they become productive pasture. This includes removing old, dead grass and thickening grass stands. The fastest and most effective way to remove dead grass and thicken grass stands is with prescribed burning in the spring. Another way to reduce dead grass is by haying. Yet a better way for grazers might be a technique called "mob grazing." Mob grazing involves placing a large number of animals in a small area for a brief time period, usually one to three days. With high stock density, animals trample dead grass into the ground and open the soil for new seedlings and tillers. This would be a great time to introduce new forages and grasses to the pasture by spreading seed, mechanically or by hand, and let the cows work the new seed into the ground with hoof action. Then remove livestock after a week or so and let seedlings get become well established before letting livestock graze again in 30-45 days.


CRP to Grass?  Fertility and Weeds

Fertility and weeds can be another issue with CRP land. Taking care of serious weed and brush problems is usually money and time well spent. Once weeds are under control and fertility levels are met, good grazing management will help maintain fertility while decreasing or even preventing weed problems. If you fail to manage your pastures well, they will soon revert back to the same weedy, infertile condition and your improvement dollars will have been wasted.

Southwest Wisconsin Grassland and Stream Conservation Area (SWGSCA)  

The Southwest Wisconsin Grassland and Stream Conservation Area contains 473,900 acres of some of the best historic native prairies, wildlife diversity, and compatible land-use practices in the state. It also harbors regionally important populations of grassland birds, which have seen declining numbers in recent decades.  It is a partnership between local, state, federal, non-profit organizations, landowners, and individual citizens, all working together towards the common goal of sustaining functional grasslands, savannas, and stream habitats. 


Carper Named New Southwest Badger Executive Director

The Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council has named Cara Carper as their new Executive Director.  Carper will be responsible for providing leadership to the Council, partner relations, fundraising and development, fiscal management and internal

 organizational support.


Carper is a former resource development educator with the University of Wisconsin Extension in Green and Lafayette counties.  She has also worked as a Regional Representative for U.S. Senator Herb Kohl and in the environmental cleanup program at Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


"These experiences have provided Cara with the knowledge, insights and opportunities to build relationships which will serve her well in her new role.  We could not be more excited that Cara has joined us, and for the future of our organization," said Lance McNaughton, president of the RC&D Council and a representative from Lafayette County.


Southwest Badger RC&D is a community development organization serving Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa, La Crosse, Lafayette, Richland, Sauk, and Vernon counties.  Its mission is to implement natural resource conservation, managed growth, and sustainable economic development in our area.


For more information or to schedule a meeting with Carper, contact her at or by calling the Southwest Badger RC&D office in Platteville at (608) 348-7110.

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