The Nature Conservancy: Donates natural areas to state

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2012
Photos and Maps: Available upon request
Contact: Chris Anderson, (612) 845-2744 (cell), [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – The Nature Conservancy announced today that it is donating two exceptional natural areas in southern Wisconsin, totaling 1,850 acres, to the State of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board accepted the land donations earlier today at its meeting in Madison.

“During this holiday season, we are especially pleased to offer our land at Chiwaukee Prairie and Quincy Bluff and Wetlands to the people of Wisconsin,” said Mary Jean Huston, Nature Conservancy state director. “The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will be good stewards of these irreplaceable natural areas and ensure that they continue to provide habitat for wildlife and beauty and enjoyment to future generations.”

The gift of the two natural areas represents more than 35 years of conservation effort by the Conservancy, its partners and members, as well as conservation investments totaling more than $1.9 million in private donations and state and federal grants.

Along with the land, the Conservancy will donate dedicated endowments totaling at least $400,000 to be used to help care for the natural areas in the future.

The Conservancy is donating its entire holding of 149.52 acres at Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area on Lake Michigan in Kenosha County. Once abundant, prairies are rare in Wisconsin today, and Chiwaukee is one of the state’s most beautiful and diverse remaining prairies with more than 400 different species of grasses and wildflowers.

Chiwaukee is one of the most intact remaining coastal wetlands in southeast Wisconsin. These wetlands help clean polluted water, protect our shorelines from erosion and serve as nurseries for fish and other aquatic life. The prairie also provides important stopover habitat for songbirds, waterfowl and other birds during their long, arduous migratory journeys.

The Conservancy is also donating its entire holding of 1,700.74 acres at Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area, a large wetland complex located on the bed of former Glacial Lake Wisconsin in Adams County.

Sandstone mesas and buttes rising up to 200 feet at Quincy Bluff provide sweeping views of the marshes, bogs, oak and pine barrens and wet forests. Due to its large size and diversity of habitats, wide-ranging mammals like the black bear and fisher thrive here.

The State of Wisconsin already owns land at Chiwaukee Prairie and Quincy Bluff & Wetlands State Natural Areas, which have been cooperative projects between the Conservancy and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for decades. This gift of land will better enable the WDNR to streamline management across the natural areas, particularly the use of prescribed fire to restore native prairie and rare oak barrens.

Other landowners at Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area include the Village of Pleasant Prairie and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Under Conservancy ownership, both natural areas have provided diverse recreation opportunities to the public including hiking, hunting, cross-country skiing and wildlife-watching. State ownership could open these lands to additional forms of recreation.

For more information about The Nature Conservancy’s work in Wisconsin or to become a member, visit