The Nature Conservancy: Gives land in southwest Wisconsin to the state

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Will Manage the “Hogback”

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Chris Anderson, (612) 331-0747 (office), (612) 845-2744 (mobile) or [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. — The Nature Conservancy announced today that it has donated its 960-acre Hogback Preserve located within the Lower Kickapoo River Valley in Crawford County to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The agency’s Natural Resources Board agreed to accept the gift at its regular monthly meeting in January. Public access for outdoor recreation will continue.

“The Nature Conservancy is pleased to donate this beautiful and ecologically significant property to the state,” said Steve Richter, the Conservancy’s director of conservation for southwestern Wisconsin. “The DNR will do a great job of managing this land for the benefit of people and nature.”

The Conservancy acquired seven tracts that make up the preserve between October 1997 and December 1999 at a total cost of almost $1.2 million. To purchase the land, the Conservancy received about $260,000 in Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grants and raised an additional $920,000 in private donations.

The DNR already owns and manages land in the river valley both north and south of the land it received from the Conservancy. The state agency’s Bell Center Wildlife Area and its Wauzeka Wildlife Area are open to the public for outdoor recreation including canoeing, hiking, fishing, hunting and birding.

Jennifer Nelson, who lives next to the former Conservancy preserve and who serves as chair of the comprehensive planning commission for the town of Haney, expressed confidence that the land would continue to be well-cared for by the state with the help of volunteers from the surrounding area.

“I think it’s our responsibility to care for it,” Nelson said. “I find it to be a very spiritual place – a beautiful place – and I think it’s always been that way to all the people who’ve lived here. I’m very happy the Hogback exists here. We’re very fortunate.”

The Hogback Preserve is named after a narrow steep-sided ridge that rises several hundred feet above the surrounding landscape. The preserve includes prairie remnants and oak woodlands as well as rare native plants and wildlife including the state-endangered regal fritillary butterfly.

The Kickapoo River Valley is identified by the DNR as a “Legacy Place” because it is considered to be one of Wisconsin’s most important areas for both conservation and recreation.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. In Wisconsin, the Conservancy has helped conserve more than 140,000 acres since 1960. The Conservancy has more than 21,000 members in Wisconsin and offices in Madison, Baraboo, East Troy, Minocqua and Sturgeon Bay. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at http://www.nature.org/wisconsin