Xcel Energy: Employees to participate in Tyrone land restoration event April 20

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – The Xcel Energy-owned Tyrone property, northeast of Durand, will be the site of the company’s annual Earth Day event on Wednesday, April 20. Xcel Energy employee volunteers will plant 1,200 white and bur oak seedlings on 66-acres of cleared farmland in an effort to restore the area to an oak savanna. Nearby, Xcel Energy crews will erect an osprey nest platform on a 70-foot pole.

Mike Swenson, CEO and president, Northern States Power-Wisconsin, will kick off the day at 9 a.m. with the unveiling of a new sign highlighting efforts to restore the land to its original oak savanna habitat, providing excellent conditions for wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, red fox and several endangered grassland birds. Joseph Motto, an avid outdoor photographer, also will be present at the unveiling. Five of Motto’s bird photos appear on the sign.

The 4,400 acres of Tyrone property in Dunn County has seen a lot of change since the company acquired it in the 1960s and 1970s as a potential nuclear power plant site. The power plant was never built, and over a period of more than four decades the land became home to permanent tree stands and trash sites. In addition, while the property is open to the public for non-motorized use, the area became eroded and rutted from unauthorized off-road vehicle use.

In 2008, following a detailed field inspection of the property, Xcel Energy crews cleaned up trash sites and posted access points with signs reminding visitors that foot travel is welcome but motorized vehicles are not.

In addition, recent ongoing activities have included converting existing agricultural lands into prairie and forest, harvesting timber to promote regeneration, planting trees and monitoring grassland birds to determine if restoration practices are increasing bird nesting population.

Xcel Energy, led by Matt McFarlane, a siting and land rights permitting analyst, with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and nonprofit conservation organizations, is restoring areas of the property into five types of land: oak savanna, floodplain savanna, sand blow prairie, dry sand prairie and goat prairie.

“All of these projects add up to significant changes for this property,” McFarlane said. “We are starting to see positive results and hope to continue to bring balance back to this area for the wildlife and for the people who use it.”