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Crawford County conservation plan protects forests and fights invasive species
CROP emma invasive
Emma Antolos is the new Aquatic Species Coordinator with Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) in their Prairie du Chien office. This photo was taken on Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Prairie du Chien portion of a statewide invasive species-monitoring event. Similar events were held in over 20 sites across Wisconsin. Invasive species are a major threat to Wisconsins waterways.

The Crawford County Land and Water Resources Management Plan explains that land management is one of the key components to maintaining Crawford County’s unique landscape. 

Woodlands not only supply habitat for wildlife, but they provide timber for the county’s logging and lumber  industry.

Preservation, enhancement and regeneration of forests is crucial in order to maintain wildlife habitat and an adequate supply of timber for future uses.

“Crawford County is home to bluff prairies and high quality oak savanna, extremely rare habitats which are some of the last remaining examples of a once abundant ecosystem.  These fire dependent habitats are being lost to invasive species, brush and tree encroachment, and to development,” explained David Troester, Crawford County Conservationist.

Forest management

One citizen group that does work symbiotic with the county’s forest management goals is the Kickapoo Woods Cooperative (KWC).

The KWC began in 2000 when a group of neighbors in Vernon County met in a local farmer’s barn and decided to join together to better manage their forests. They saw a need for the timber resources in this area to be managed in a way that is beneficial to the environment, while at the same time producing needed goods that would support the local economy.

KWC offers numerous beneficial services to its members. From educational and forestry management services to discounts on forestry tools, KWC proves itself a valuable partner in Sustainable Forest Management.

Through educational events, landowner woods walks, and quarterly newsletter, KWC provides information and guidance to support utilization, stewardship, and enjoyment of woodlands.

Whether you want to enter the State’s Managed Forest Law Program, learn about forest restoration, invasive species control or sell timber, the Kickapoo Woods Cooperative has the skills and knowledge to help.

Through their forestry store KWC offers discount pricing on forestry tools, LogRite tools, skidding arches, farming tractor winches, books and safety equipment.

You can support sustainable forestry and the work of KWC by becoming a cooperative member.

Invasive species

Invasive species continue to be a threat to forests, open lands, and the general landscape of the county.  Whether it is plant, insect, or animal invasive species, they have been identified as issues necessary to address.

Currently more than 149 species are listed as invasive or nuisance species in the Mississippi River Basin, which includes the Southwest Badger area. These species, identified by the Mississippi River Basin Panel on Aquatic

Nuisance species, include plants, animals and pathogens.  Invasive species such as Zebra Mussels and Japanese Knotweed have greatly impacted the fragile Mississippi River Basin ecosystem. Once established, both are incredibly difficult to control and even more difficult to eliminate. Millions of dollars could be spent on eliminating just one species within the basin.

Many landowners voluntarily work to control invasive species such as garlic mustard, buckthorn, honeysuckle, wild parsnip, crown vetch, purple loosestrife, reed canary grass, Japanese hops and Japanese knotweed.

Citizen-based monitoring

Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) is a premier example of a partner organization that works closely with the county to implement their invasive species management goals.

Established by federal legislation in 1962, the RC&D is a non-biased rural development program, focusing on the conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources to improve the standard of living in our area.

It joins forces with individuals, agencies, and groups to improve the social, economic, and environmental opportunities of the local area.

Are you tired of seeing dense thickets of wild parsnip, teasel and other invasive plants taking over our road ditches and other areas that used to be habitat for native plant species?

 RC&D is in search of volunteer support from the public. Citizens can make a contribution to preserving the county’s native plant habitat by volunteering to be a roadside monitor. To learn more, contact Brandon Bleuer at or (309) 738-2607.

Crawford County’s plan

Goal 1: Encourage sustainable forestry practices that respect our unique ecosystems.

Objective A: Inform residents and loggers about the importance of sustainable forestry practices. Actions: 1. Make information available through an annual mailing regarding forest best management practices to landowners and loggers; 2. Promote the DNR’s Managed Forest Law Program to 15 forest landowners per year.

Objective B: Provide opportunities for residents to practice forest regeneration. Actions: 1. Conduct annual Tree and Shrub Sale and sell 2,000 trees/ shrubs per year; 2. Provide information to residents via an annual mailing on the WDNR State Nursery Program and the opportunity to purchase seedlings.

Goal 2: Protect and enhance important wildlife habitat areas.

Objective A: Inform and educate Crawford County landowners on the importance of wildlife habitat areas. Actions: 1. Inform and educate the public about the economic value of the county’s wildlife through the LCD fair display; 2. Use one annual press release to inform the public on wildlife issues; 3. Serve as the agricultural liaison to the Crawford County Deer Advisory Council; 4. Conduct annual birding field trips to a site in the county; 5. Coordinate with Buffalo County LCD/ NRCS on an annual ‘Prairie Tour’, highlighting local sites that have had restoration work; 6. Maintain prairie on County lands and use as a demonstration area for an annual outreach event.

Objective B: Protect existing wildlife areas and increase the amount of important wildlife habitat. Actions: 1. Provide technical assistance to seven landowners per year seeking advice on land management, especially prescribed burning; 2. Administer and distribute WIDNR’s annual county allotment for the County Conservation Aids funds; 3. Work with federal and state agencies to secure funds for preserving important wildlife habitat areas by writing five letters of support during this 10-year plan; 4. Work with sports groups such as Trout Unlimited and Wisconsin Waterfowl Association to secure funds for wildlife habitat preservation areas on two projects during this 10-year plan; 5. Apply for a state grant, if available, to secure funds for habitat protection.

Objective C: Protect important wildlife habitat areas from invasive species and pests. Actions: 1. Inform and educate landowners about the threats posed by invasive species and pests through an annual press release and a directed mailing; 2. Provide information to landowners on identifying invasive plant, animal and insect species; 3. Participate in two Southwest Wisconsin Invasive Species Coalition meetings per year; 4. Coordinate a DNR Rapid Response Grant for aquatic invasive species control; 5. Promote (and maintain) the LCD sprayer as a tool to control invasive species (rent to two landowners/ year).

Goal 3: Limit wildlife damage to crops.

Objective A: Administer the WIDNR’s Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program for the county. Actions: 1. Assist five landowners per year with damage claims and ensure they are in compliance with the program.