Those who live in the driftless area know that it is a very special place.
Now however, that is confirmed with the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) designating it one of the national Landscape Conservation Initiatives, supported through USDA and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
The primary purpose of the Driftless Area Landscape Conservation Initiative is to restore, improve and protect the unique and diverse species found in the region's working lands, forests, streams and prairies.
The immediate goals are:
• Manage working lands to reduce erosion;
• Manage woodlands for increased diversity;
• Restore prairies and manage grasslands and oak savannas for habitat; and
• Restore cold water streams in the Driftless Area.
"The Driftless Area is such a unique landscape, having been by-passed by the glaciers of the last Ice Age," says Jimmy Bramblett, NRCS State Conservationist for Wisconsin. "However, its steep and beautiful topography leaves it especially vulnerable to soil erosion."
"This initiative helps protect and improve an important, nationally known region of America," says Bramblett.
The announcement was made at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve in La Farge, during the annual meeting of the Driftless Area Partners, a four-state group working to protect and sustain the area's economy and environment. All four NRCS State Conservationists from the Driftless Area states attended the announcement, adding their full support to the five-year initiative. They are Ivan Dozier from Illinois, Jimmy Bramblett from Wisconsin, Don Baloun from Minnesota, and Jay Mar from Iowa.
NRCS has implemented a broad spectrum of initiatives since January of 2009, including initiatives for the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes Restoration, the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. These initiatives address priority resources within geographic focus areas.
"This is landscape-scale conservation, beyond boundaries," said Bramblett. "Natural resource concerns transcend farm, county, and state boundaries. The most effective way to protect our resources is to target conservation to the most vulnerable or valuable areas and to apply a systems rather than a practice-by-practice approach."
"We want to connect and build on the work of the many, many partners in the Driftless and leverage all our resources," he added.
Interested landowners should contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center for their county. Applications can be made at any time.
For more information, visit www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov,
or contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center serving a certain county.