Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, Inc.
February 2015

New Opportunities for Urban Forestry in Southwest Wisconsin!


After a successful DNR Urban Forestry project working with small communities in southwest Wisconsin to help them deal with the oncoming threat of Emerald Ash Borer, Southwest Badger is in an opportunistic position to help these communities (as well as other communities that have begun the process of considering urban forests issues) take the next step in embracing, and ultimately managing, their urban trees.


Urban Trees in Lancaster

Many directors of public works have asked for assistance to explain to elected officials and the public, the benefits and costs of trees they own. Southwest Badger recently received a grant from DNR to work with communities to influence staffing, policy, perception and planning regarding how to better utilize a collective partnership between communities, their infrastructure and trees.


The goal of this project, "Recognizing Urban Trees as City Infrastructure," is to educate communities about the quantifiable benefits of urban trees and help those communities take action to consider trees as important to their infrastructure balance sheet as roads or bridges.


We will help communities recognize their urban tree canopy for its contributions to their economic, environmental and cultural well-being. Benefits such regional stormwater management, heating and cooling, air quality, property value, and community livability will translate into securing tax dollars to sustain the long-term infrastructure value of urban trees. It is our hope that communities will translate that performance into long-term asset valuation - bringing urban forests onto their infrastructure asset ledger - to harness funding to supports and expands tree canopy's environmental services.


Like in many parts of the state, municipalities in southwest Wisconsin have limited staff, funding and knowledge to address their urban trees. Often communities have only one or two staff people who are responsible for everything from fixing cracked pipes to running the wastewater treatment plant to cutting and planting trees. At best, they may have some knowledge of urban trees, but do not have the time or expertise to identify trees or develop a plan of action to deal with trees. Some small communities have outdated inventories of trees, and in many cases, no one on staff who can prioritize tree maintenance.


If your community is interested in benefiting from this program, please contact Southwest Badger Forester Patrick Dayton at (608) 637-5479 or

Southwest Badger Quarterly Meeting

March 6th in Dodgeville

We cordially invite you to attend the upcoming Quarterly Meeting of the Southwest Badger Council on Friday, March 6th at the Health and Human Services Building in Dodgeville.  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
New Opportunities for Urban Forestry in Southwest Wisconsin
Southwest Badger Annual Meeting
Additional Funding (and a NEW Position) for the Fight Against Aquatic Invasives
Whole Farm Planning Workshop a BIG Success!
The Strength of History
Aquatic Invasives Update
Bringing Grazing Plans and Funding to Southwest Wisconsin
NEW Southwest Wisconsin Invasive Species Coalition

Protect Your Trees

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 is your conservation partner - all sales fund resource conservation in southwest Wisconsin.

Additional Funding (and a NEW Position) for the 

Fight Against Aquatic Invasives

We are pleased to announce Southwest Badger will be adding a second Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator to work on invasives issues in southwest Wisconsin.


Southwest Badger has received a new grant from DNR for two Aquatic Invasive Species positions.  The North Coordinator will be responsible for activities in Crawford, Richland, Sauk, Vernon and La Crosse Counties.  The South Coordinator will be responsible for Grant, Lafayette, Green, Iowa and western Dane Counties.


The focus of the Aquatic Invasive Species Education, Prevention and Control grant is on broadening the public's awareness and understanding of (and ability to identify) aquatic invasive species and the threat aquatic invasives pose to the health of aquatic ecosystems.  The goal is to prevent the spread of new aquatic invasive species and use best management practices to control aquatic invasives.  These prevention activities will prevent the introduction of new aquatic invasives into waterbodies such as lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands and prevent the spread of invasives from one waterbody to another. 


Stream Sampling

This will be accomplished by using DNR's proven prevention and control strategies that concentrate on early detection and response to pioneer populations of aquatic invasive species. 

  • Educating the public (understanding--identification--how to prevent the spread--management practices for control)
  • Locating Pioneer Populations
    • Waterbody Monitoring - The Coordinators will document locations of new populations in locations of both high infestation and areas where no known aquatic invasives have been identified. High public use areas will be targeted.
    • Bridge Crossing Monitoring - The Coordinators will document locations of new populations at bridge crossings in each of their five counties.  If invasives are located, they will survey upstream and downstream of bridge crossings.
    • Volunteer Monitoring - The Coordinators will provide training to interested volunteers to identify and report new or aggressive aquatic invasives.
    • Controlling Pioneer Populations - When a pioneer population is found, the Coordinators will work with county partners to pull together a response team (and if needed, a Rapid Response grant) to prevent the spread and ultimately control the population.

Southwest Wisconsin has no county Aquatic Invasive Species coordinators, so Southwest Badger provides all of the education, monitoring and containment to slow the spread in the area. The Driftless Area has more rivers and streams and fewer lakes, and because of that, a huge amount of unlimited access shoreline to cover. The area is frequented by out-of-state water resources users including trout anglers and recreational boaters due to the vast amount of fishing and outdoor opportunities, making the area vulnerable to new introductions brought in from outside sources.


The South Coordinator (Don Barrette) will be headquartered in Southwest Badger's Platteville office.  The North Coordinator (still to be hired) will be headquartered in the Crawford County Land Conservation Office in Prairie du Chien.  If you know a promising candidate for the North Coordinator position, please contact Cara Carper at (608) 348-7110 or

Whole Farm Planning Workshop a BIG Success!

Laura Paine, Grazing Broker
Standing Room Only Crowd of more than 100!

Everyone who owns rural land--both farmers and non-farming landowners-can benefit from having a whole farm plan. Over 100 rural landowners learned how to get started developing a plan for their land at Southwest Badger's Whole Farm Planning workshop on Saturday, February 7th in Dodgeville, WI.


The program began with an overview of the whole farm planning process, which helps landowners assess their land's natural resources along with its production capacity. It provides a means of bringing all of the pieces together in an integrated management plan to achieve financial, production, and land stewardship goals.


A total of nine breakout topics followed. Participants interested in economics and the legalities of owning rural land learned about income options from Badgerland Financial's Paul Dietmann, property taxes from UW Extension Ag Economist Phil Harris, and lease agreements from Iowa County Extension Agriculture Agent Gene Schriefer. Did you know that a verbal lease agreement or one written on a cocktail napkin is legal (but not a good idea) in Wisconsin?


Packed Break Out Sessions

Participants also learned that goat grazing can be used to clear brush from overgrown woodlots in the Silvopasture session with Cherrie Nolden and Diane Mayerfeld from UW Madison and Keefe Keeley from the Savanna Institute. Participants learned about native habitats in Southwestern Wisconsin from DNR Wildlife Manager Travis Anderson and how to preserve and protect their land for the future from a presentation on estate planning and conservation easements from UW Extension's Joy Kirkpatrick and the Driftless Area Land Conservancy.


Managed grazing was one of the most popular topics with presentations on managed grazing basics from Southwest Badger's Laura Paine as well as fencing and watering systems from NRCS Grazing Specialist Brian Pillsbury. Paine's session on Cropland 101 covered conservation cropping practices. Did you know that organic matter (OM), which makes up only 5% of soil is responsible for 90% of soil water holding and nutrient holding capacity, and that some cropping practices build soil OM and others deplete it?

Great Vendor Displays


The workshop ended with a presentation on the natural and human history of Wisconsin's Driftless Area by Dave Vetrano, a long-time DNR fisheries biologist now retired. The Driftless area is unique in many ways: it is a rugged landscape untouched by the glaciers that have shaped the rest of the region. Home to many spring fed trout streams, it is a fragile landscape. Past farming, mining and logging practices have left us a legacy of sediment filled valleys that are still recovering. And finally, it was home to the nation's first watershed conservation project in the 1930s, which fostered a tradition of land stewardship that is alive and well in the region.


Understanding your land and its history and character is the first step in developing a whole farm plan that balances economics, environment, and quality of life. Southwest Badger is now offering fee-based assistance to landowners interested in developing a whole farm plan. Assistance can be in the form of group workshops, individualized farm visits and coaching or Southwest Badger can develop your plan for you. Please let us know how we can help you.  Contact Laura Paine at or (608) 732-1202.

The Strength of History
Patrick Dayton, Stewardship Forester

If you have ever had the enjoyable opportunity of talking with Cara Carper, you have probably been asked if you are "using your strengths."  This is in reference to personality characteristics that are described in the StengthsFinder program developed by Gallup.  The concept of the program is people will get much farther focusing on their strengths instead of their weaknesses, so we should know our strengths and use them.


Harvest Opening

One of my strengths discovered through the program, with Cara's insistence, was 'Context.'  A person who is contextual enjoys thinking about the past and understands the present by researching its history.  I hadn't  previously seen that in myself and was quite shocked when I went home and realized how much 'stuff' I had put in my house, my yard, and my life that came from my father and mother and my childhood.   The more I thought about it, I realized I was the guy at meetings who always talked about how things used to be done, and I now recognize how much I still do that with Southwest Badger. 


And so - to those people who have joined Southwest Badger within the last two years, I want you to know that I don't bring up what we used to do because I want to live in the past.  I do that because I want our present and future to grow on a foundation that a lot of labor has been invested.  


It has been enjoyable for me to see our organization adapt in recent years.  When I started here, I had viewed Southwest Badger as an organization that was historic and well-established.  In the last few years my view of the organization has changed to one that is young and aspiring (and yes I do see the irony that my switch in views seems out of the natural order). 


To those people who have left the organization in the last few years, I want you to know the changes I have seen the organization make have built on your hard work.  We have had to change and have welcomed the future with open arms, but the organization has not forgotten where it got its start. We learn from the past, look forward to the future, but live in the present.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

Aquatic Invasives Update
Don Barrette, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator

Currently we are in the beginning of the 2015 season.  I have begun writing two rapid response grants, one for Iowa County and one for Lafayette County.  I am looking at others in Grant, Richland, La Crosse, Green and Crawford Counties.  The goal of these rapid response grants is to get some of the small aquatic invasive species populations that can be easily controlled. 


 We are finishing up data entry for sampling that we have completed from 2011-2014 and are making distribution maps.  We are also finishing interviews for our potential UW Platteville Academic Center for Community Engagement (PACCE) summer interns.  We are hopeful UW Platteville will have funding for two Southwest Badger interns, one working with the Northern Counties Coordinator and one with the Southern Counties Coordinator.


I have also been involved with the discovery of the New Zealand Mudsnail in Black Earth Creek. We will have an information meeting Feb 15th in Cross Plains for those who want to attend and see what is taking place for that issue.


If you have aquatic invasive species concerns, please call or email me with new discoveries or things you may want to work on. Or if you have questions about what we are planning, please ask for more information.  Thanks everyone, stay warm and in touch.

Bringing Grazing Plans and Funding to Southwest Wisconsin
Dennis Rooney, Grazing Specialist

Well sitting here and reminiscing the highlights of my 2014 year as a grazing specialist, a pleasant memory comes to mind.  I recall working with a young couple, Reed Fitton and Amanda Rubasch, who were offered a great opportunity to lease a legendary piece of property, the Ben Logan family farm.  You may recall Logan's autobiographical book "The Land Remembers:  The Story of a Farm and It's People."  Ben Logan has protected the southwest Wisconsin farm he wrote about by granting a conservation easement to the La Crosse-based Mississippi Valley Conservancy to ensure the tillable land (approximately 50 acres) of the 103 acre farm located near Gays Mills will remain as farmland forever according to his wishes.  


 It was my honor to write an Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) cost sharing plan through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program. The couple was granted an infrastructure cost sharing grant through the EQIP Honey Bee Initiative in the spring of 2014.  That has led to the construction of perimeter fencing, access road, seeding, water lines, year round waterer and interior fencing on the 50 acres which is nearly completed.


Reed had 28 young dairy heifers of his own and 62 three hundred pound heifers of his mentor's on pasture through the 2014 grazing season that were rotationally grazed and moved to a new paddock every 3 to 7 days.  Reed is a product of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Farmers and is interning with a well known pasture-based dairy grazer, Donnie Boland, who lives just a few miles from the Logan farm.


I also wrote Reed and Amanda's grazing plan through the Valley Stewardship Network (VSN) and the Kickapoo Grazing Initiative (KGI) which are both nonprofits that are grant funded through many different agencies.  I am subcontracted to VSN and KGI through Southwest Badger as a grazing specialist to help potential grazers develop grass based farming operations.


In 2014, I wrote twelve grazing plans totaling 1,214 acres.  Of these twelve, I wrote eleven EQIP cost sharing plans in Crawford, Vernon and Richland Counties. 

NEW Southwest Wisconsin Invasive Species Coalition

There's a new coalition in town, tasked with coordinating efforts to stop the spread of invasives in southwest Wisconsin.  Coalition meetings have been well attended, and at the most recent meeting, they came up with a new name, Southwest Wisconsin Invasive Species Coalition (SWISC) and new enthusiasm in the fight against invasives. 


The Southwest Wisconsin Invasive Species Coalition is in the process of forming a Steering Committee (minimum of 5 people; maximum of 15 with broad diversity across our nine county area).  It will be up to the Steering Committee to:  identify clear expectations and roles, develop a general mission, articulate future outcomes, and provide for the sustainability of the Southwest Wisconsin Invasive Species Coalition.


In the meantime, the dynamite intern, Julia Kemnitz from US Fish and Wildlife Service will be working on how we can best share our invasive species equipment and events on some sort of sharing website (like Sharepoint).


If you have equipment available for others to borrow in the fight against invasives species, upcoming invasive species events, or are interested in serving on the Southwest Wisconsin Invasive Species Coalition Steering Committee, please contact Cara Carper.

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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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Help support natural resource conservation and economic development in southwest Wisconsin.
Donations to Southwest Badger are welcome at any time. 
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or mail your contribution to: Southwest Badger, PO Box 753, Platteville, WI 53818
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