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Southern Wisconsin Bird Alliance to be awarded an additional $900,000 for 348-acre conservation project

In addition to a $1.5M Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program grant, Southern Wisconsin Bird Alliance was awarded a Dane County Conservation Fund grant to complete the purchase of Koshkonong Prairie Sanctuary.

WISPolitics reports that the Dane County Park Commission has recommended allocating up to $912,900 to the Southern Wisconsin Bird Alliance (SoWBA) to acquire approximately 348 acres of land in the Town of Christiana. This grant is in addition to a $1,491,000 Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program grant approved by Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee in February 2024. SoWBA applied for a Dane County Conservation Fund Grant to secure remaining funding needed. A resolution for the Dane County grant is expected to pass in coming weeks.

The former agricultural land has been in the Gunnulson family for nearly two centuries and has remained untouched by row cropping for the past 30 years. The property will be known as Koshkonong Prairie Sanctuary once the purchase is finalized.

“David Gunnulson’s property is a unique place with rich history and beautiful natural features,” said Matt Reetz, Executive Director of Southern Wisconsin Bird Alliance. “We are so excited about the opportunity to protect and celebrate this land, which provides crucial habitat for grassland birds and other native species that are at risk.”

The purchase aims to permanently preserve land for birds and other wildlife, restore significant acreage to prairie, and provide outdoor recreational activities and educational opportunities for the public. Special property features include cool-season grasses, woods, and restored prairie that provide crucial habitat for grassland birds like Bobolink and Dickcissel, as well as Monarch butterflies that rely on the property’s native milkweed.

Local officials and conservationists have expressed their enthusiasm for this project, emphasizing its potential to boost biodiversity and create balance in a community that will soon host a large solar site.

Featured image by Preston Bousley, 2022.

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