Farmers’ Fields Transformed to Help Wildlife and Water Retention
|Project Summary: Restoring habitat on the site of former Wisconsin farmland has helped reduce runoff, created a home for wildlife and created outdoor recreation for people in the community.|
Project Name: Muskego Lakes Wildlife Area
Location: Near Franklin, Wisconsin
Description: Flooded farmland will cause manure, fertilizer, and sediment to flow off the land into nearby river systems. Increased nutrients in the watershed can cause algal blooms, and too much
sediment can block up a river. The Big Muskego Lakes Wildlife Area has taken former agriculture fields that experienced flooding and returned them to a mix of prairie habitat, wetland areas, and forested land. A conservation easement on the property means that it will be permanently managed in a way that protects this environment. Returning the land to a mix of habitats not only helps prevent flooding and nutrient build-up downstream, but it also provides habitat for wildlife not often found in southern Wisconsin. With 25 acres of grassland prairie and 23 acres of wetlands, the Big Muskego Lakes Wildlife Area provides a habitat for wildlife, a buffer to absorb floodwaters, and a beautiful recreation area for people in the community.
Approximate Cost of the Project: Over $1,000,000 from the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, over $1,000,000 from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and $10,825 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Resource Challenges Addressed: Flooding in agricultural areas, nutrient run-off, sediment loading, lack of grasslands habitat in southern Wisconsin
Key Partners (Public and Private): Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, The Conservation Fund, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
Types of Jobs Created: Construction workers, maintenance workers, surveyors, general laborers, and local plant nursery staff
Results and Accomplishments: The Big Muskego Lakes Wildlife Area has restored multiple habitat types, diversifying options for wildlife and reducing nutrient and sediment loading into nearby rivers. Wetlands on the 274-acre property, as well as Dumke Lake, mitigate the flood potential from storm events. In total, the Wildlife Area has the ability to absorb and hold about 18 million gallons of water on site thereby moderating flood risk and sequestering nutrients and sediments that could otherwise harm the Great Lakes.
Originally Published: August 30, 2013