Living in the Midwest: Grasslands

Fall is a beautiful time in the midwest, especially when the sun is out and the air is crisp with a touch of coolness, foreshadowing the winter yet to come. Although it has barely been forty degrees each of the last two days, I have worked outside, preparing some garden beds for winter.

Yesterday, I stopped by a piece of land preserved some years ago by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy.  My Environmental History course has a project requirement as the final and I choose to find out more about this locally based organization that has been protecting lands in the Driftless area of Wisconsin since 1997.  The acquisition of the New Amsterdam Grasslands was one of the first sites earmarked for preservation.

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It occurred because a DNR employee, who was also one of the founders of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, had been noticing bird activity in the area (a few hundred acres) when driving past this site to work.  Fortunately, a financial backer stepped forward to allow the conservancy to purchase the grassland site and also protect the endangered and threatened bird species living and reproducing in the habitat.

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Over the last two weeks, I  have collected a great deal of information on the Mississippi Valley Conservancy. I even visited the archive room at the local public library! Knowing that interviews are important to lend first hand accounts to the story at hand, I attempted to contact one of the founders of this group. But, yesterday, I stopped by the New Amsterdam Grasslands – only one of the local pieces preserved by the MVC – to take some photographs to ad to my presentation.  It was on my way home from an appointment I had earlier in the day and I wanted to see how it was marked, for I have driven the road the entry is on many times and never saw the marker. At first I drove past it, but sitting quite a bit off toad, I found the trailhead.

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As you can see, it was a beautiful fall day! The New Amsterdam Grasslands is only one type of land that the MVC protects. There are wetlands, bluffs, and more. I am sure the photos will add greatly to my presentation. And, you can be sure that I will be hiking some of the MVC trails when it is a little warmer out!  Who will be joining me?

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