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Feb 2010 CAWS Newsletter Madison Audubon Society

Feb 2010 CAWS Newsletter Madison Audubon Society

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Published by: Madison Audubon Society on Jul 20, 2010
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Madison Audubon is a chapter of the National Audubon Society
222 S. Hamilton St. / Madison, WI 53703 / 255-2473/ www.madisonaudubon.orgFebruary 2010
Free Public ProgramWho:
Brad Hutnik and Mark Cupp
Lower Wisconsin Riverway
Tuesday, February 16, 20107:30 p.m. – Program
New Location!Capitol Lakes RetirementCommunity333 West Main St., MadisonParking:
Free – ramp across the streetLower levels – must useunmarked spaces or thoselabeled “DNR”
“Yet there remains the river, in a few spots hardly changed since PaulBunyan’s day; at early dawn . . . one canstill hear it singing in the wilderness . . .Perhaps our grandsons, having neverseen a river, will never miss the chance toset a canoe in singing waters.”
We still have the chance to set a canoein the lower Wisconsin River, much asit was when Aldo Leopold wrote. In anage of rapid development, how has itretained the qualities Leopold admired?Why isn’t the river lined with condos?Thank the Lower Wisconsin StateRiverway (LWSR) created 20 years ago.The Riverway’s boundaries extend92.3 miles from below the dam atPrairie du Sac to the confluence withthe Mississippi River near Prairie duChien, encompassing 79,275 acres. TheRiverway seeks to protect and preservethe scenic beauty and natural characterof the river valley, manage area resourcesfor the long term benefit of Wisconsincitizens, and provide a quality publicrecreational area in a manner consistentwith the resource and aesthetic protec-tion goals and objectives.Brad Hutnik and Mark Cupp willreview the Riverway’s background, itsunique aesthetic regulations, and landmanagement options. They will focus on bottomland forests, upland oak forests,and birds .Since 2002, Brad Hutnik has been theWI-DNR Lower Wisconsin RiverwayForester. Within the LWSR, he coordi-nates forest management for state landand advises private landowners aboutecologically sound, sustainable forestry.Mark Cupp is executive director of theLower Wisconsin State Riverway Board,one of the smallest state agencies inWisconsin, charged with administrationof a unique set of regulations designedto protect and preserve the scenic beautyand natural character of the final 92miles of the Wisconsin River.You are invited to join our speaker,MAS board members and friends atthe pre-program dinner at
Paisan’sRestaurant (131 W. Wilson St.)
begin-ning at 5:15 p.m. Please call the officeat 608/255-BIRD (255-2473) if you havequestions.March program: In place of the regularMarch meeting, we will hold our
WingsOver Madison
Banquet on Tuesday,March 30.
Aesthetics and Land Managementin the Lower Wisconsin Riverway
Horicon Marsh:Did You Know?
Bill Volkert will speak about the past,present and future of Horicon Marsh atthis year’s
Wings Over Madison
spring banquet on Tuesday, March 30. Volkert isthe natural resource educator and natu-ralist at Wisconsin DNR’s Horicon MarshState Wildlife Area. Did you know . . .
• Effigy mounds can be found near
Horicon Marsh. In the 1850s, IncreaseLapham, Wisconsin’s first state geolo-gist, mapped over 500 mounds aroundthe marsh.
• Potowotomis and Winnebagos
(Ho-Chunk Nation) had settlementsat the marsh. White settlers at firstcalled the area “The Great Marsh of theWinnebagos.”
• In 1846, a dam was built in the town
of Horicon to power the first sawmill.The dam held back water in the marsh,raising it nine feet. The flooded marsh,dubbed Lake Horicon, was called thelargest man-made lake in the world.But wait, there’s more!Tap into Bill Volkert’s vast wealth of interesting Horicon Marsh facts, figuresand photos. Mark your calendar now, tellall your friends, and plan to attend the banquet. Invitations will be mailed in lateFebruary.
Horicon Marsh/DNR photo
February 12-14: Wisconsin PublicTelevision Garden Expo
at the Alliant
Energy Center, Madison. Choose
from more than 100 educationalseminars, including “Gardening forHummingbirds” with Kathi andMichael Rock at noon on Saturday,Feb. 13 and 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb.14.View demonstrations on gardening,lawn, and landscaping topics andenjoy hundreds of exhibitor booths.www.wpt.org/gardenexpo
February 12-15: Great BackyardBird Count.
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 toparticipate.(1) Count birds for at least 15 minuteson one or more days of the count—Friday through Monday;
(2) Countthe greatest number of individualsof each species that you see togetherat any one time; and (3) When
you’re nished, enter your results
through the GBBC web page. www. birdsource.org/gbbc
March Field TripSaturday, Mar. 6: Early SpringMigrants
Steve Thiessen will lead this earlymorning field trip to Mud Lake inMcFarland. Mud Lake is usually thefirst body of water to thaw in our area,so it attracts good concentrations of spring migrating waterfowl. We willmeet at 7 a.m. at the south end of LewisLane in McFarland. Bring a scope if you have one. For more informationcall Steve at (608) 873-3323.
March 12-14: Canoecopia
annual pad-
dlesport exposition. Alliant Energy
Center, Madison. www.rutabaga.com/canoecopia
March 26: Wisconsin Bird ConservationInitiative Conference: The Powerof Partnerships.
All Wisconsin BirdConservation Initiative (WBCI) partnersand the public are invited to this year’sconference/annual meeting, to be heldin Milwaukee on Friday, March 26.
ThePower of Partnerships
theme parallels the2010 International Migratory Bird Daytheme. In addition, 2010 marks the 20thanniversary of Partners in Flight.This year’s focus will be the State of Our Birds and how we can partner tohelp them. Dr. Stan Temple will describethe present state of the birds, and look 40years into the future. Terry Rich, NationalCoordinator for Partners in Flight, willdiscuss the power of partnerships, fol-lowed by a number of WBCI partners tell-ing their success stories. Attend the con-ference to learn how to become involvedin such projects as Bird City Wisconsin, bird research and monitoring efforts, win-tering grounds conservation, TrumpeterSwan recovery, grassland bird conserva-tion, and more.To make a difference for the birds welove, WBCI (all 167 partners and you!) isworking hard to initiate and coordinate bird conservation efforts that requirea committed partnership. The WBCISteering Committee encourages you toattend and help chart a path for bird con-servation into the future.For more information as it becomesavailable, including the exact location of the conference, please check the WBCIwebsite, www.wisconsinbirds.org, or con-
tact Karen Etter Hale, WBCI Chairperson,
masoffice@mailbag.com or 608-255-BIRD(2473).
April 20-21: Earth Day at 40—ValuingWisconsin’s Environmental Traditions,Past, Present, and Future.
TheUW-Madison Nelson Institute for
Environmental Studies invites everyoneto its fourth annual Earth Day Conference
to be held at the Monona TerraceConvention Center, Madison. The confer-ence will celebrate the 40th anniversaries
of Earth Day and the Nelson Institute,
and explore lessons learned over the pastfour decades and pathways to environ-mental sustainability in the 21st century.Featured appearances include Robert F.Kennedy Jr., Margaret Atwood, WilliamMeadows, John Francis, William Cronon,and many others; an evening concert
 by the Ecotones: A Musical Ecology of 
Wisconsin; and other special activities.For more information, watch the NelsonInstitute website, www.nelson.wisc.edu/earthday40
April 24: “Orioles and Ocelots:Wisconsin’s Connection to Costa Rica,”
a new international collaboration, will be unveiled by The Natural ResourcesFoundation of Wisconsin, in partnershipwith the Wisconsin Bird ConservationInitiative. Tropical ecologist and authorDr. Adrian Forsyth headlines an eveningevent at the Milwaukee County Zoo forWisconsin’s migratory bird conservationefforts on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula,one of the most biologically denseplaces on earth. For more information:Craig Thompson, (608) 785-1277, Craig.Thompson@wisconsin.gov
February 20102The Audubon CAWS
From the President
By Brand Smith
The Madison AudubonSociety participated in astrategic planning retreaton December 4-5, 2009,facilitated by Carol Mayesand Sara Wilson of MayesWilson & Associates. The retreat wasattended by MAS Board of Directors,staff and volunteers. Mayes Wilson com-menced the planning session with a dis-cussion of MAS’s mission, with the objec-tive of determining whether the currentmission still describes the organization’score purpose.The facilitated discussion indicated thatthe mission still describes the organiza-tion’s core purpose. Retreat participantsonly desired to make slight revisions tothe wording of the mission, primarily touse more compelling language.This exercise was very important because the mission is the organization’s“North Star” —it guides the organizationin all of its work. When new projects orprograms are suggested, the Board shouldask, “Is this project in alignment with ourmission?” and “Does this program/proj-ect help us achieve our mission, and if so,how?” As soon as the Board of Directorsapproves the mission statement, I will besharing it with you.The retreat also generated many goalsthat the organization will be working onand you will hear about these often. Weare working with Mayes Wilson on thenext steps to start moving toward a newthree- to five-year strategic plan.I will be writing more in the future asinformation becomes available.
Red-breasted Nuthatch/Pat Ready 
3February 2010The Audubon CAWS
Why a Hungry PlanetNeeds More Prairie
 Anyone involved in prairie restorationhas heard it repeatedly: You’re takinggood farmland out of production! Theidea that land should produce food forhuman use is so deeply ingrained in ourculture that even those who appreciatethe environmental benefits of prairierestoration may at times find themselvesfeeling conflicted on this point, so here’sour take on the issue.First, let’s put things in perspective.The American Farmland Trust reportsthat, “every single minute of every day,America loses two acres of farmland.From 1992-1997, we converted to devel-oped uses more than six million acresof agricultural land—an area the size of Maryland.” Assuming that we continueour recent pace of prairie restoration atFaville Grove of roughly 40 acres per year,it will take us 150,000 years to convert asmuch farmland as the nation’s develop-ers did in five! And there simply aren’tenough other prairie restorationists outthere to bring that timeframe down to ascale that is meaningful to civilization.Furthermore, land lost to developmentis lost essentially forever. It will take theadvance and retreat of another glacierfollowed by millennia of prairie growthto restore the productive potential of most developed land. Land in prairie,on the other hand, is land in the bank,and the interest rates are far better thananything you’ll find at your local creditunion. Prairie built our most productivesoils, and prairie can continue to buildthose soils, removing carbon from theatmosphere every year and putting it intohumus, improving the land’s agriculturalpotential should it be needed in the future(see sidebar). Additional interest is paidalong the way in the form of wildlifehabitat, groundwater and surface waterprotection, and human enjoyment.But just the same, prairie restorationdoes take land out of production andthere
hungry people in the world, sothe question still nags: Is it morally rightto remove
land from agriculturalproduction in a hungry world? To answerthis, we need to look at how the food cur-rently produced is put to use.At least 20% of the corn grown inWisconsin goes to ethanol for fuel.Heavily subsidized by the government,ethanol productionfrom corn produceslittle or no, or evennegative, net energy,depending on whoruns the numbers.The amount of landremoved from foodproduction for etha-nol dwarfs even theacreage taken bydevelopment, whichin turn dwarfs theacreage put back toprairie.Furthermore,some 70 to 80% of grain producedin the United States is fed to livestock.Nationwide, 157 million metric tons of cereal and vegetable protein is used toproduce 28 metric tons of animal protein,representing an even greater waste of human food than ethanol production,with annual global meat production pro- jected to more than double from 229 mil-lion tons at the beginning of the decade to465 million tons in 2050.Waste, even on this scale, might be toler-able if the wasted food were producedsustainably, but it is not. Livestock pro-duction is currently responsible for 18%of global greenhouse-gas emissions asmeasured in carbon dioxide equivalent,and a stable climate is essential to futurefood production. Modern agriculturerequires huge inputs of fossil energy fortillage and transport. It degrades soil orwashes it downstream faster than the soilcan rebuild. Carbon previously storedin soil by prairie plants is oxidized andreleased into the atmosphere. As soilfertility declines, farming relies increas-ingly on fertilizer and pesticides, bothof which require enormous additionalenergy input. Phosphorus, an essentialplant nutrient, is mined, and global sup-plies could be depleted in about a centuryat current rates of consumption, about thetime that the human population is pro- jected to peak. As these chemical inputsmake their way downstream, they wreak environmental havoc the whole way.In short, the food we squander todayrepresents a degraded environment andreduced agricultural productivity in thefuture. With this perspective, the moralimperative becomes clear: We need tostop wasting food while destroying thevery resources needed to produce it.
Ending this prodigality would allow us
to remove vast stretches of land fromagricultural production and put it back inan interest-bearing account in the prairie bank. It’s long past time to turn the tableson the developers. Current and futuregenerations would find themselves
 fed if restorationists could convert farm-land to prairie at the rate of two acres perminute every single minute of every day,while developers make do with 40 acresper year, here and there, for a change.
Conservation easements andfuture food needs
Madison Audubon generally placesrestrictive covenants on sanctuary landsthat prohibit agricultural and other uses“in perpetuity” – a term that causes muchunnecessary consternation. These cov-enants are generally in the form of con-servation easements sold to the federalor state governments under programsintended to retire flood-prone or erosion-prone land from agricultural productionor to improve wildlife habitat and pro-vide any of the other public benefits asso-ciated with ecological restoration. Giventhat global human populations are pro- jected to peak by the end of this century,such covenants could, on a tiny scale, tiethe hands of future generations as theydeal with this crisis. But legal restrictionsare only as permanent as the laws uponwhich they are built. While we sincerelyhope that the situation will never warrantsuch drastic action, congress does havethe authority to change the laws regard-ing conservation easements, and thepresident does have the power to issuean executive order overriding such cov-enants, and the prairie could once againmeet the plow.
Buddy's Prairie was planted in 1994 on highly eroded crop-land. This damaged soil once again is improving every year.

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