With a grant from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, the Mississippi Valley Conservancy has purchased a 398-acre bluff property owned by the McNamee family on the east edge of Boscobel.
Boscobel Mayor Steve Wetter welcomed the news: “I think it’s great.” Wetter said the community has plenty of room for development “up the valley” and he likes to see the beauty of the hills protected.
John W. McNamee said the family was grateful the the purchase made fulfilled the wish of his father, the late Dr. J. R. McNamee, to preserve the bluffland he owned east of Boscobel “as a wilderness and a permanent habitat for the many rare, and in some cases, endangered species of flora and fauna who call it home. We also wish for you to extend our thanks to the DNR staff and our elected officials who oversee the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund for their work and effort in making this dream a reality.”
McNamee added, “We believe that the acquisition of this property by MVC will enhance the quality of life for the people of Boscobel and the surrounding area by preserving a unique piece of Wisconsin’s natural beauty.
Tim Jacobson, MVC executive director, said, “We’re especially pleased to protect the Boscobel Bluffs property because we believe it is an important part of the local community. The land is directly adjacent to town and its beautiful bluffs can be seen from almost everywhere in town. It’s part of the very identity of Boscobel and provides for an enhanced quality of experience for local residents and tourists. The public will be able to recreate on and enjoy this land forever, and it will become an even more important part of the community.” The view from the property includes all of the city and the Wisconsin River.
Jacobson expressed deep appreciation to the McNamee family for entrusting the long-term care of this land to MVC. The conservancy worked with several family members to make this conservation project happen, including Peter and John McNamee, as well as Patrick McNamee prior to his death in 2011. Patrick had been an avid outdoorsman and member of The Prairie Enthusiasts. McNamee family members noted that the land has been in the family since the 1860s.
MVC paid $895,000 for the land with the grant. The value of a thousand-acre land donation along the Kickapoo River by the family of the late James Babson was used by MVC as State Stewardship Fund grant match to cover half of the purchase price.
This is the second-largest Stewardship Fund grant that MVC has received in its 16-year history. The only larger grant for a land purchase in southwestern Wisconsin was the nearly-million-dollar grant to acquire New Amsterdam Grasslands near Holmen in La Crosse County in December 2007.
Pat Caffrey, MVC board president, said, “This project is a great example of how the conservation leadership and generosity of private citizens, coupled with the leveraging power of the State Stewardship Fund, has resulted in the protection of one of the most precious parts of the Wisconsin landscape. Without the Stewardship Program and the contributions of the Babson and McNamee families, this conservation project would not have happened.”
George Howe, MVC’s conservation director, said, “This is a large, scenic, and very diverse parcel of bluffland, especially important because of its location in the Wisconsin River Valley. The land contains a great variety of natural habitats like hardwood forest, bluff prairies, rocky cliffs, and open grasslands. The land also provides critical habitat for many types of wildlife including threatened birds like hooded warblers, rare reptiles, and endangered plants like purple milkweed and wild petunia."
Jacobson pointed out the public benefits of the project, which include recreational and educational activities such as hiking, birding, nature photography, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hunting, and trapping. Interpretive signs and guided hikes may be available in the future to showcase restoration activities and natural communities of the site.
Additional public benefits include the protection of wildlife habitat, open space, and the scenic viewshed, as well as soil conservation and watershed protection.
Jacobson said, “Mississippi Valley Conservancy looks forward to connecting school children and people of all ages with this special place.”
Mississippi Valley Conservancy works in the counties of Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon, Crawford, Richland and Grant in southwestern Wisconsin—a service area encompassing 4.3 million acres of land. The mission of MVC is to conserve native and working landscapes that enrich our communities through private, voluntary action, for the health and well-being of current and future generations.
Mississippi Valley Conservancy has permanently conserved 15,600 acres with an additional 2,000 acres dedicated to conservation through a Landowner Registry Program, for a total of more than 17,000 acres. The accomplishments of MVC have resulted in the organization being named “Land Trust of the Year” and “Friend of Conservation – Outstanding Organization” for the State of Wisconsin. In February 2012, the Land Trust Accreditation Commission conferred national accreditation on MVC—a feat achieved by only about 12% of 1,700 land trusts around the country.