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County conservation plan requires land use planning
Land Use Planning
Subdividing land into smaller parcels results in the property having management issues for certain forestry practices. The fragmentation and selling of parcels to multiple landowners impacts the Countys forestland. In many cases once forestland is sold its use changes to a residential parcel or a recreational parcel. Upon this happening the property is more actively used and forest management is often overlooked.

Land use planning as part of comprehensive plan development has been very important for Crawford County and the towns, villages and city within its boundaries. Numerous land use issues have impacted the towns and county ranging from land fragmentation to incompatible land uses.

Over the past four years, Crawford County and the majority of towns, villages, and city have completed comprehensive plans. Now, the municipalities are at the critical stage of implementing the vision and goals of their plans.

It will be important for county departments and committees, such as the Crawford County Land Conservation Department and Committee, to continue to provide planning assistance to local municipalities.

Land use planning

“We are really pushing the Nutrient Management Plans. Every producer spreads fertilizer, and a large portion also spread manure. We work with farmers to ensure they are only applying nutrients where they truly need them. NMPs are designed to save farmers money by reducing fertilizer costs and boosting their yields,” said David Troester, the Crawford County Conservationist.

Since 2011, the percent of cropland in Crawford County covered by a NMP has increased from less than one percent to over 11 percent in 2015. Many farmers still do not do soil testing and apply their fertilizers based off of their best guesses.

“The county usually gets state funds to provide cost-share to farmers to hire an agronomist or crop advisor to write their NMP.  The deadline to apply for this funding for 2017 was August 1,” according to Troester.

Land management

“Crawford County contains a fair number of properties which contain bluff prairies and high quality oak savanna.   Our goal is to help protect and preserve these areas,” Troester explained.

Aside from several DNR-owned properties that were purchased to protect these habitats, there is also a very passionate segment of the public who are preserving these areas on their own land.

These extremely rare habitats are some of the last remaining examples of a once abundant ecosystem.  The fire-dependent habitats are being lost to invasive species, brush and tree encroachment, and to development.

“Both NRCS and DNR have cost-share programs that can help landowners restore their bluff prairies or oak savannas.  There are also other groups such as The Prairie Enthusiasts, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, and the USFWS that provide outreach and information on the importance of these sites,” said Troester.

Preserve and restore

Mississippi Valley Conservancy (MVC) and The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) are two organizations that operate in the county that are dedicated to preservation and restoration of unbroken tracts of well-managed, wild natural areas and restoration of indigenous, natural landscapes.

Mississippi Valley Conservancy is a regional, non-profit land trust based in La Crosse, Wisconsin. MVC has permanently conserved 17,369 acres of blufflands, prairies, wetlands, and streams in and around the Mississippi, Kickapoo and Wisconsin Rivers since our founding in 1997.

They work with private landowners and local communities on voluntary conservation projects in nine counties in the unglaciated Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin: Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon, Crawford, Richland and Grant counties.

MVC uses voluntary tools such as conservation agreements, land purchases, land donations, cooperative acquisitions, and a landowner registry program to conserve lands for ecological, scenic, and open space values.

MVC has preserved more than 7,000 acres in its seven-county area protected by conservation easements.

Each year, MVC sponsors work days and educational events – more information can be found at:

One upcoming MVC event is planned for:

Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Seasons in the Coulee Region Fall Color Hike at Boscobel Bluffs sponsored by Gundersen Health System: Mississippi Valley Conservancy and Gundersen Health System bring you our annual colors hike to celebrate our fall season.  We will hike up the trails of Boscobel Bluffs, where leaders will identify flowers that are still in bloom.  The beautiful colors of the forest should be in full color and make for great pictures!

The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) is a private organization committed to the protection and management of native prairie and savanna of the Upper Midwest. We have an incorporated, nonprofit status and are a grass roots organization operating primarily through volunteers.

TPE differs from other conservation groups in its sole dedication to the preservation of the last remaining pieces of the once vast, now endangered, prairies and savannas of the Upper Midwest through land protection and management.

TPE evolved from small prairie preservation organizations that began in the mid-1970s. We now have 11 chapters in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

TPE hosts events throughout the spring summer and fall in their area of operation.

Trout Unlimited (TU) works all across the country restoring degraded trout and salmon waters and making them viable and fishable once again. We work with landowners, state and federal agencies, local communities and our corps of volunteer anglers to return once-healthy trout streams to their former greatness.

Sometimes, this includes simple fixes, like working with ranchers to keep livestock out of streams or replanting streamside vegetation to provide cover and shade for trout. Sometimes, repairs are more profound, and require heavy construction equipment and involve transforming mistreated streams into fully functional riparian habitat again.

Crawford County plan

Goal 1: Work with the towns on the implementation of their comprehensive plans.

Objective A: Support towns, villages, and cities with the implementation of their land use element goals identified in their comprehensive plans. Actions: 1. Provide information and education to the local municipalities upon request regarding plan implementation methods through biennial meetings; 2. Explore options for developing of a GIS system.

Goal 2: Promote and support local land use planning to protect the natural resources of the county.

Objective A: Support towns, villages, cities, state, federal and local/regional agencies with the implementation of land use planning which protects the natural resources of the county. Actions: 1. Provide information and education to the local municipalities upon request regarding land use planning implementation methods; 2. Inform and educate the public on the importance of land use planning in order to protect the county’s natural resources by visiting two town board meetings per year; 3. Inform and educate the public about the economic value of the county’s natural resources by visiting two town board meetings per year; 4. Assist one local unit of government with developing land use regulations which protect the natural resources of the county.

Goal 3: Improve and protect the quality of natural resources by the judicious and economic use of nutrients.

Objective A: Inform and educate Crawford County landowners on the wise use of nutrients. Actions: 1. Use radio advertisement, bulletins, demonstrations, and biennial workshops to inform landowners; 2. Use county scales to calibrate manure spreaders; 3. Work with Southwest Technical College to facilitate training designed to certify landowners to write their own nutrient management plan (five new plans per year); 4. Secure grant and cost-share opportunities for five new nutrient management plans per year; 5. Work with landowners to complete five new nutrient management plans; 6. Collect annual NMP Checklists from all FPP zoning participants (60), Animal Waste Storage Permit holders (8), and all Livestock Facility Siting Permit holders (2).