Bison roamed vast grasslands that once existed in southwestern Wisconsin. Today, grazing animals are back on The Nature Conservancy’s land in the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area as part of an experiment using cattle grazing as a management tool. Landowners interested in learning more about using grazing to manage their land are invited to attend a free field day on Saturday, July 19 from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. at the Conservancy’s Barneveld Prairie on Langberry Road off County Road K in Iowa County.
“The cattle are great—they love wild parsnip. They’ve been very effective at controlling this noxious weed in our grasslands,” says Eric Mark, the Conservancy’s land manager. Mark works with neighboring livestock producers to use controlled grazing to both improve the grassland and provide forage for the cattle. “It’s a win-win situation.”
The field day will include informational sessions on the natural history of the southwest grasslands, the environmental benefits of well-managed grazing, resources and how to get started on your own land, and a tour of the Conservancy’s grassland grazing project.
“Well-managed grazing can also keep brush from encroaching on grasslands, and it can be a good alternative to annual row crops,” says Laura Paine, Southwest Badger RC&D Grazing Broker. “The goal of our Grazing Broker project is to help connect landowners who want livestock on their land with like-minded livestock producers. At this field day, you’ll learn how we can assist you.”
Partners in the project in addition to The Nature Conservancy and Southwest Badger include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the University of Wisconsin Extension-Iowa County, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Pheasants Forever, the Driftless Land Conservancy, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and various county land conservation offices. Funding support is provided by The Wallace Center Pasture Project, The WI Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The field day is free and open to the public. Coffee and refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP by July 14 to Laura Paine at 608-732-1202 or email@example.com.