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Success Stories

conservation showcase


Wisconsin Conservation Success Stories


Tennessen's standing in front of cows in pastureGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative -Managed Grazing Suits Beginning Farmers

Carlos and Kathy Tennessen are beginning farmers, just getting started with managed grazing. They learned about grazing operations from Adam Abel, NRCS Soil Conservationist, who helped them with management techniques to succeed with grazing.

Read more... (587k,pdf)

Hoelzel brothers in farm fieldGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative - Dairying in the Fox River Watershed

Outagamie farmers Paul and Ken Hoelzel milk 360 cows and farm 800 acres. Their farm is not far from the Fox River.  They are focusing on manure management to reduce runoff from their farm.

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George Van Wychen and son NickGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative - Got Soil?  Make it healthy! The Van Wychens show us how it's done.

George Van Wychen has been farming since 1977, and planting cover crops for 15 years. Learn more about this farm in the Lower Fox River Watershed. Their farm is part of the Phosphorus Reduction Initiative and serves as one of four demonstration farms in northeastern Wisconsin.

Read more... (350k,pdf)

photo of Dan BrickGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative - From Concrete to the Hypothetical

Dan Brick is fully aware of the water quality issues in his area. He is researching and gathering data on nutrients and cover crops and their effect on reducing phosphorus in runoff.

Read more... (350k,pdf)
Restored streambank Driftless Area Conservation Landscape Initiative - Bear Creek Streambank Restoration in Sauk County

Pool, Riffle, Run... Pool, Riffle, Run  The Rhythm for restoring streams.

Much of Bear Creek had severely eroded banks and sediment covered the stream bottom, preventing spawning of game fish. Now it's a jewel of a restoration that runs 4.5 miles through a scenic valley in southwest Wisconsin, and the trout are back.

Read more... (350k,pdf)

Heather and Helyna make their daily trip to the pasture Conservation Stewardship Program - Fresh Grass Every Day on the Flashinski Farm

Heather and Mark Flashinski operate Farm Sweet Farm, a beautiful grass farm in Chippewa County, WI. Rotational grazing is the foundation of their conservation planning.

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Calvin Sebranek and Todd Cockroft review conservation plans Conservation Stewardship Program - Keeping Watch over the Valley

Calvin Sebranek is a good steward of his land. He goes the extra mile to make sure the natural resources on his farm are protected.

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farmer receives recognition sign from NRCS Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Cover Crops Build Better Soil

Scott Thenius of Tinedale Cropping explains how cover crops are a new staple of the Tinedale Operation in the Lower Fox Watershed.

Read more... (164k,pdf)

farmer receives GLRI sign Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - From Planning to Pasture

With help from NRCS, some highly erodible lands on Terry Groth's Farm 45 near Jackson Wisconsin, is now beautiful pastures for his rotational grazing system.

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John Malvitz presents GLRI to Marv and Patty Biese Great Lakes Restoraton Initiative - Plum Pride Dairy

Marv and Patty Biese really do have a sense of pride about their farm. Protecting the valuable resources on their farm is an important part of their farm plan. NRCS has worked with them to install several conservation practices that will help reduce nutrient loading into Plum Creek, which is part of the targeted areas of the Initiative.

Read more... (150k,pdf)

Seasonal High Tunnel Project serves an an introduction to NRCS for a Jefferson County farmer

Cheu Vang grows vegetables for his local farmer's market. After hearing about the seasonal high tunnel pilot project from his brother in Rhode Island, he contacted his local NRCS office. His high tunnel is now complete, and he is able to extend his growing season. This project served as an introduction to NRCS and Cheu is anxious to learn more about conservation practices and ways he can protect his soil.

Read more... (164k,pdf)

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) focuses on watersheds along Lake Michigan

Dave and Heather Lettow always look to improve their dairy operation. GLRI helps address resource concerns on their farm which lies within the Milwaukee River Watershed. The owners say "We never would have been able to do it without the assistance of NRCS"

Read more... (332K,pdf)


Water Quality is a top priority at the Four Star Dairy

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) allows Roger Erickson to tailor conservation improvements to his farm that meet his resource concerns. NRCS District Conservationist, Jane Reigel works closely with the Four Star Dairy addressing water quality concerns on the farm.

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Growing Conservation - There is more than a grazing plan on Larry Wilkinson's Farm

Brian Pillsbury, NRCS Grazing Lands Specialist developed the first grazing plan for Larry Wilkinson in 2000. This year Larry is enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and is in the process of transitioning his dairy operation to certified organic.

Read more... (295K,pdf)


Wetlands Reserve Program  - A little bit of paradise

A farm in Waterloo,  purchased in 1964, was the dream come true for an immigrant couple from Prussia.  Seigfried and Elsbeth Fuchs started dairy farming here and did so until 2008, when Seigfried passed.  His wish was to return the land back to a natural state.  The Wetlands Reserve Program restored 85 acres on the property and now there is a “little bit of paradise.”

Read more... (1480K,pdf)



Nhiacha Enterprises - Finding out about NRCS

Nhiacha Yang, a Hmong farmer from the Green Bay area, wasn’t quite sure what to think about getting advice from NRCS.  John Malvitz, District Conservationist in Brown County helped him understand what type of assistance NRCS offered.  An Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract was granted for several improvements.  His operation is within an area that is targeted by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for water quality improvements. 

Read more... (402K,pdf)


Land Stewardship in Kickapoo Valley Reserve - NRCS partners with the Ho-Chunk Nation on tribal lands

When it comes to land stewardship, who knows better than the Ho-Chunk Nation?  And when it comes to “Helping People Help the Land” by putting conservation on the ground, that’s the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  NRCS programs have improved, restored and enhanced several parcels of land owned by the Ho-Chunk Nation in the Reserve.  The area is rich in prehistoric archeological sites with artifacts dating back to the Paleo-Indian Tradition (10,000 BC), a very significant area to the Ho-Chunk Nation.  The areas are now beautifully restored prairies and a stretch of a productive trout stream is now stabilized, thanks to the working partnership between the Ho-Chunk Nation and NRCS.

Read More: (148K,pdf)


Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Rotational grazing enhances buffalo herd on the Oneida Nation Farms 

The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin have been grazing buffalo on the Oneida Nation Farms (ONF) since 1996. ONF is located in the Lower Fox River Watershed, in a watershed targeted for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).  

With only 150 acres of pasture and the herd size reaching 140, changes were needed in both the infrastructure and the grazing management system.  Tony Bush, NRCS Tribal Liaison to the Oneida, developed a conservation plan and prescribed rotational grazing plan for the farm. GLRI Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds helped the farm expand the pasture acres to 214 utilizing the new grazing plan.   

Dennis VanVreede, ONF farm supervisor says, “Thanks to NRCS and GLRI funding, we have been able to expand our buffalo grazing operation allowing us to supply more healthy meat to the Oneida people and at the same time improve forage quality.”

Read More: (1096K,pdf)

Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI) - Family farm helps to improve water quality in the Delavan Lake Watershed

 The Kettle Moraine Land Trust organized the Delavan Lake Watershed Initiative Network with local partners to improve water quality in the area.  Through NRCS, the Land Trust also successfully applied for the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) for funds to help local farmers implement conservation practices that improve the quality of water draining to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. 

Read More: (1096K,pdf)

wild rice bed
Protecting Wild Rice Beds in the Bad River Slough

Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa used the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to tackle an invasion of narrow leaf cattail in the wild rice production grounds of the Bad River sloughs. They physically removed small pockets of narrow leaf cattail and reseeded rice into the newly established bedding areas. This is a difficult technique due to the volume of vegetation harvested during the removal process. Small sites were more successful with rice planting following the removal. Since larger beds are too big for hand removal, they  are being monitored for possible chemical treatment in the future.

Hmong Vegetables Grow on Trellises

Bitter Melon, and Chinese Red Noodle Bean are popular vegetables for the Hmong.  To produce well, they need to grow on trellises.  The Wausau NRCS staff designed and constructed two permanent trellises as an outreach demonstration project in conjunction with The Peoples Garden initiative.  Over 55 lbs. of produce was donated to The Neighbors Place food pantry from the trellises.
One trellis was constructed on a farm where many Hmong have community gardens, to showcase the sturdy design which stands up well with heavy produce and inclement weather.

WHIP Project Restores Sacred Burial Mounds for Ho-Chunk Nation

The Kingsley Bend Indian Mounds were preserved in a highway wayside, identified with a historical marker, since 1971. Although the mounds themselves were preserved, the native oak savannah habitat has long been overgrown with brush, pine and invasive species. The Ho-Chunk Indian Nation assumed ownership of the sacred site from the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation, and is restoring it as an interpretive educational site. Through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, t brush and non-native trees will be removed, and prairie grasses planted to restore the oak savannah.

The site contains 22 mounds, including 2 bear mounds, a bird mound, panther mound, 12 conical mounds, and 5 liner mounds. The mound group is representative of those built by the Effigy Mound Culture between 700-1000 A.D. There was usually only a single burial in a mound, but some mounds a dozen or more burials have been found. The 40 acre site sits on a bluff overlooking the Wisconsin River just east of the Wisconsin Dells in Columbia County.

CSP Works for Woodland Owners

“CSP is important for rewarding landowners who have already done a lot of work but could do a little bit more.” says Bill Horvath, a forestland owner in Shawano County, and Conservation Security Program contract holder.

Bill has 86 acres of land, including 27 acres he’s restored to wetlands and nine acres he’s restored to prairie. “CSP is all about rewarding landowners that are already doing conservation,” he says. “Everything you’ve done in the past helps you score.” As a hunter, Bill is mainly interested in the wildlife benefits offered through CSP. He will be adding six species of shrubs for wildlife habitat as well as installing boxes for Wood Ducks and Bluebirds.

Big Trout Return to Big Springs .... Fast!

There is a new, beautiful stretch of first-class trout stream in southwest Wisconsin, swimming with large brown and small brook trout.   Through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, 10,500 feet of streambank was restored, and 135 in-stream habitat structures were built and installed on the Big Spring Branch of the Blue River, part of the Lower Wisconsin River Watershed. This project provided the link to connect other restoration work done by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Trout Unlimited.  The trout returned within a few months after construction, as shown during a fish shocking demonstration (photo). A remarkable catch!

  For more information, contact Renae Anderson, at Wisconsin NRCS State Office