Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, Inc.
November 2014

Managing Invasives Together

Southwest Weed Management Area

Although we don't have a formal name yet, a steering committee for the organization currently know as the Southwest Wisconsin Weed Management Area has met and is taking steps to coordinate invasives management activities in southwest Wisconsin.


Twenty three partners attended a meeting in Richland Center to discuss the benefits and possibilities of a Weed Management Area.  Attendees included representatives from County Land Conservation Departments, UW Extension, Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kickapoo Valley Reserve, Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Lower Kickapoo Initiative, Southwest Badger and landowners.


The agenda, presentations and minutes from the meeting are available on the Southwest Badger website at:


We discussed past efforts of organizing a Weed Management Area in Sauk County (the Greater Sauk County Invasive Team) and the regional Southwest Invasive Species Team.  Unfortunately neither of these efforts has continued, due to a lack of a coordinator.


Thanks to a couple of small grants from DNR, Southwest Badger has some funding to fulfill the coordination role for about a year.


Many organizations in Southwest Wisconsin are already hosting events and providing resources to combat invasives.  Each member of the steering committee explained what they/their organization was doing to deal with invasives.  Southwest Badger will create a spreadsheet of events, activities, services, resources and funding sources to share with partners. 


A number of partners have equipment that is available to borrow or rent (such as hand sprayers, personal gear and hand seeders).  The group will build a database of available equipment.  If you or your organization has equipment that can be used by others in the region, please contact Cara Carper.


Working with others in our region on a Cooperative Weed Management Area will allow for coordination and shared efforts. People participating in successful Weed Management Areas in Wisconsin have found them to be critical to getting a better handle on preventing, identifying and containing the spread of invasive species.


If you or someone you know is interested in being part of the Weed Management Area, please contact Cara Carper at or (608) 348-7110.


Southwest Badger Annual Meeting

December 5th in Richland Center

We cordially invite you to attend the upcoming Annual Meeting of the Southwest Badger Council on Friday, December 5th at the Phoenix Center in Richland Center.  Additional details and the agenda will be sent separately. 

About Us
Southwest Badger 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
Managing Invasives Together
Southwest Badger Annual Meeting
Evaluating the Suitability of Land for Contract Grazing
Community Ash Tree Inventory Update
Taking on Phragmites in Richland County
Aquatic Invasives Update
2014 Grazing Update
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Evaluating the Suitability of Land for Contract Grazing
Laura Paine, Grazing Broker

In our May newsletter, we defined contract grazing as a partnership in which one person owns the land and another owns the livestock. Contract grazing is a means of getting more livestock and soil-conserving grasslands on the landscape.


Whether you're a landowner considering renting a grassland for pasture or a livestock producer looking for more grazing acres, evaluating the suitability of a piece of land for grazing is an important first step. This is a service we provide through the Grazing Broker program. We look at a number of different features, including number of acres, fencing condition (if present), water sources and availability, and pasture composition, condition, and productivity.



A first step in assessing a potential pasture lease is to calculate carrying capacity. The goal of a well-managed grazing system is to optimize pasture productivity in relation to the number of animals on the pasture. Overstocking will damage the grassland and potentially create water quality and soil erosion problems. Most producers look for pastures in the 20 to 40 acre range. A typical well-managed 20-acre pasture can carry 16 cow-calf pairs, 22 steers, or 100 ewe-lamb pairs, for a five to six month grazing season. A smaller pasture may be acceptable if the renter is a neighbor with adjacent or nearby pastures.



Many of the underutilized grasslands in the region have inadequate fencing, if any

Solar Fencer

 at all. A solid perimeter fence around the pasture area is a significant expense, but one that your renter may be willing to share or that may be eligible for cost sharing through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Because we strongly encourage rotational grazing, we recommend high tensile wire in most cases, so that interior paddocks can be created with temporary electric fencing. This system is very flexible and allows the manager to respond to drought and other weather conditions by changing paddock size. Ideally, this electric fencing is inexpensively run off household or barn power, but solar and battery fencers are another low cost option.


Water Sources

Water is the biggest stumbling block in many of the potential pastures I look at. Livestock need access to fresh, clean water and many of these grasslands are

Stream Crossing

not adjacent to farmstead areas where well water is available. There are several options for providing water for livestock. If a stream is present in the pasture, a gravel cattle crossing can be installed that allows animals to drink from the stream without damaging the stream banks. There are also pumps that use the flow of the stream to pump the water into a tank. If springs are present, you can pump water out of the spring into a tank, thus protecting the area around the spring. If well water is available, many livestock producers use above ground black plastic tubing to run water from a household well to paddocks. All of the above options are practices that may be eligible for EQIP cost sharing.


Pasture Composition, Condition, and Productivity

A healthy grassland or pasture should have a diversity of perennial plants. There should be little or no bare ground, and few annual plants. While grasses and legumes are pasture mainstays, most broadleaf plants add welcome diversity to pastures. They tend to be nutritious and palatable, and grazing can effectively control things like wild parsnip, reed canarygrass, and some brush species. In contrast, species such as thistles, burdock, and multiflora rose may need to be controlled with mowing, grubbing out, or herbicide treatments.


Many CRP fields or other idle grasslands have less than ideal plant communities, with one or two species dominating and invasive weeds present. Even if pasture composition is poor, managed grazing is likely to improve it. Often the rest-rotation cycle of managed grazing initiates changes in grassland composition, encouraging desirable grasses and legumes that may be present in the seedbed.


Soil fertility and soil type drive pasture productivity. Many CRP fields and other idle grasslands were taken out of annual crop production due to steep slopes, shallow soils, or other productivity issues. Bringing these fields back into pasture production will take some time, but is usually not difficult. The best forage is produced in well-rested, rotationally-managed pastures.  Initiating rotational grazing is the first step. After the plant community has responded to the rest-rotation cycle, you can assess whether fertilizer inputs or interseeding is needed to improve the stand. These are negotiable items in a pasture lease.


Whether you're a landowner with a grassland you'd like to consider grazing or a livestock producer looking for pasture to rent, the Grazing Broker is available to come out to your site to assess the options. We maintain a database of producers and landowners and can help you find the best fit for your needs. Feel free to contact me at or 608-732-1202. 
Community Ash Tree Inventory Update
Patrick Dayton, Stewardship Forester


Our urban forestry project concerning Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has taken off, and we have gotten recognition from around the state for our unique approach to a serious problem.  I had the opportunity in August to go on public radio and explain the project and our organization to a regional audience.  

Listen to the story here. 


So far, we have completed the evaluation/inventory in Lancaster and Bloomington, we 

One of the many benefits of trees:  Cars parked in the shade at a park in Lancaster

have begun work in Darlington and Spring Green, and there are three or more communities that have shown interest in learning more about their urban forest.  


Southwest Badger, UW  Extension, and the City of Viroqua held a presentation for public works directors for municipalities in or near Vernon County on the topic of Emerald Ash Borer in September.  We discussed identification of Emerald Ash Borer, options for management, and possibilities of urban wood use/disposal. The cities were provided information from professionals and were able to discuss with each other what they were doing.  


Emerald Ash Borer has recently been found near Viroqua and Westby so a reminder to the local residents that they need to take the invasive and destructive bug serious was emphasized.


For more information, contact Patrick Dayton at (608) 637-5479 or

Taking On Phragmites in Richland County
Southwest Wisconsin Weed Management Area

Phragmites, a highly aggressive species often called common reed grass, was recently located and eradicated in Buena Vista Township in Richland County.  Thanks to a grant from the Wisconsin DNR, Southwest Badger is in the process of forming a weed management area to coordinate efforts to remove and reduce exotic invasive species in southwest Wisconsin.  

Don Barrette and Kent Marshall discuss the identification features of Phragmites

The Wisconsin DNR has focused its limited funding on early detection of non-native species and removal of populations before they become established.


Action to eradicate Phragmites was taken by Southwest Badger in collaboration with the Richland County Land Conservation office. Don Barrette, Southwest Badger aquatic invasive species coordinator, stated, "We have to work smart on how we handle invasive species.  Finding this pioneer population early and trying to eliminate it from the landscape was deemed possible.  It is nice that we have so many good partners in Richland County to help deal with it quickly." 


Southwest Badger contracted with an ecological restoration business to chemically treat the invasive grass to try to eliminate it from the county.  Along with the phragmites, populations of Japanese knotweed were treated as part of the same project. 


Invasive species have become quite common in our area and throughout the country.   Time Magazine recently published a lengthy feature on the topic with the opinion that the problem is here to stay.


"Throwing up our hands and giving up on non-native invasive species work is the easy option and understandable since the challenge often seems overwhelming," said Southwest Badger forester Patrick Dayton.  "Yet, it is important that we not give up. How we humans interact with nature is vital on how the ecosystem will function.   As long as we continue to strive to keep ecological niches strong and vibrant, even if we can't protect or restore every acre, we relate and interact with nature in a positive manner which will produce better outcomes than quitting on a problem that we helped cause." 
Aquatic Invasives Update
Don Barrette, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator

Once again it is time to reflect on all that has been accomplished in our good fight against aquatic invasive species. Throughout the 2014 season, I was involved in aquatic invasive species monitoring.  Unfortunately there were plenty of new invasives discoveries. Most notably, Japanese Hops was discovered in several new locations in multiple counties.  Crawford County had three new Japanese Hops discoveries at different watersheds and upland locations and Lafayette County had new Japanese Hops discoveries at multiple locations on the same watershed.


I have been the Aquatic Invasive Species coordinator for Southwest Badger for almost four years. Every year we discover new species and species expanding ranges to new locations.  We continue to prioritize our fight against invasives based on resources and risk, and we continue to set up more partnerships to deal with aquatic invasive species issues.


This year I established partnerships with Iowa Grant Schools to raise Purple Loosestrife-eating beetles for area Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol projects.  It was also a very successful year for our Clean Boats Clean Waters work.  We partnered with the Yellowstone Lake Friends Group and the Dodgeville Kiwanis to complete over 400 boater contact hours and to discuss Clean Boats Clean Waters and watercraft aquatic invasive species prevention responsibilities with over 2,000 individual boaters.  Don also was instrumental in helping Richland County begin the control of non-native Phragmites discovered earlier in the year near the Sauk/Richland County border (see article above).


It has been a very successful and productive year. We have accomplished so much together and look forward to another rewarding year. Thank you once again to all of our partners who have helped us maintain a successful fight against aquatic invasive species and remember to follow four preventions steps when enjoying our natural resources.


Boat trailers, equipment and gear before entering and when leaving a waterbody or natural area.


All attached aquatic and terrestrial  plants and animals from equipment before and after using a waterbody or natural area.


All water from boats, vehicles and equipment.

Never Move:

Plants or live fish away from a waterbody.Always do your best to prevent the introduction of aquatic and terrestrial invasive species by obeying these four rules. 
2014 Grazing Update
Dennis Rooney, Grazing Specialist

Where has the summer gone?


We have had a fairly good pasture season in southwest Wisconsin in 2014. We started out with April and May cool and wet. Most producers were able to put the heifers out on pasture the first week of May.  This was later than 2013 by three weeks and even then, pasture was short (but remember usually by mid June we have a flush of grass and can't keep up). This year was no different, and we ended up harvesting approximately 24 ton of first crop hay off our paddocks.


Now our growing season is pretty much over.  We do have a nice supply of stockpiled grass for the heifers. I started feeding some of the first crop hay we harvested in late October to extend the stockpiled grass - hopefully to the end of November and into December. This probably would not have been possible if we weren't doing managed grazing.


My summer has been equally busy working with clients and consulting with them on their pastures and hopefully helping them understand the mechanics of rotational grazing. I have consulted with over 22 clients since July 1st.  I have written 8 grazing plans and have 8 in progress.


My Golden Years?

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Opportunities to Sponsor our Newsletter
You probably noticed the advertisement for Serenity Bluff Cabin in our last newsletter.  This is a new opportunity for the Southwest Badger e-newsletter.  If you are interested in sponsoring the newsletter through an advertisement, please contact Cara Carper at (608) 348-7110 or  The e-newsletter currently goes out to an ever-growing list of nearly 450 conservation-minded subscribers.


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