About the Network
The Driftless Area:
A gem in Wisconsin
Southwestern Wisconsin has been recognized for many years as one of the best grassland conservation opportunities in the Upper Midwest. The area stands out for its distinct combination of resources:
significant populations of grassland birds, which are experiencing alarming declines across Wisconsin and range wide;
many scattered remnants of the area's original prairie and savanna habitat that once covered the region;
concentrations of rare grassland plants and animals, and spring-fed streams, all set within an expansive rural farming region of open fields, croplands, oak groves, and pastures.
The steep topography and thin soils that characterize the region are favorable for grass-based agriculture and fields enrolled in federal agricultural conservation programs.
The Southwest Wisconsin Grasslands Network is a partnership of organizations and agencies that share a common vision: a region that is rich in healthy grasslands, successful working farms, clear-flowing streams, diverse wildlife, and people who value and enjoy this landscape. The Network focuses on the grassland-rich region in Grant, Lafayette, Iowa, Dane, and Green Counties in southwest Wisconsin.
Since 96% of the region’s land is privately owned, network organizations focus on equipping landowners with knowledge and resources for managing their lands in ways that protect and benefit natural resources.
Our goals are to:
Support awareness of the status of grasslands among those who live and work in the area.
Focus strategies and activities on key conservation targets such as springs and streams, remnant prairies and oak savanna, reconstructed grasslands, rare and declining species.
Assist landowners with accessing resources and tools they need to manage and protect natural resources on their property.
Promote and implement best conservation practices that are economically and ecologically viable.
Endorse and influence policies that make conservation feasible for farmers and other landowners.
Help people enjoy and value grasslands.
Grow community awareness, trust, and engagement in the Network’s mission.
University of Wisconsin Extension
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Iowa County Land Conservation Department
Natural Resources Conservation Service
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Fisheries
WDNR Natural Heritage
American Bird Conservancy
Blue Mounds Area Project
Driftless Area Land Conservancy
Pecatonica Pride Watershed Association
The Nature Conservancy
The Prairie Enthusiasts
Upper Sugar River Watershed Association
The Southwest Wisconsin Grassland Network’s mission is to actively support the conservation of grasslands in Southwest Wisconsin to benefit the region’s wildlife, water, farms, and communities.
Mary Kay Baum
We envision Southwestern Wisconsin to be a place rich with healthy grasslands, successful working farms, clear flowing streams, diverse wildlife, and people who value and enjoy this landscape.
Healthy grasslands, successful working farms, clear-flowing streams, diverse wildlife, and people who value and enjoy this landscape.
Photos: Sunset landscape: Jeff Hapeman | Monarch, Peter Gorman | Stream: Joshua Mayer | Sandhill crane: Murray Foubister | Farmland: Cathy Bleser | Dickcissel: Cathy Bleser