Driftless Area Land Conservancy

Nature’s Beauty and Capacity to Heal

Nature’s Beauty and Capacity to Heal

As a young boy scout, Doug Jones learned that “you leave your spot better than you found it.” To this day, he and his wife Sherryl adhere to this adage.

In December 2014, Doug and Sherryl permanently protected a part of their land with the Conservancy.

This restored prairie, situated next to a secluded lake along the Wisconsin River, is helping protect an array of beautiful and brilliantly colored rare fish that call the lake home.

According to Dave Marshall, retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologist and current Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (FLOW) researcher and board member, these rare fish are “much like the proverbial canaries in the coal mines. They reflect the health of these lakes, which are crucial to the health of the river.”

The prairie restoration, planted and maintained by Doug and Sherryl, filters nutrients from groundwater before it reaches the lake. In past years, excess nutrients created thick, dense algal blooms that threatened the future of the rare fish that live only in lakes like this.

Since Doug and Sherryl planted the prairie on their property, FLOW has measured – through groundwater and surface water samples – a steady decline in nutrients in the lake next to the Jones’ prairie.

According to Sherryl, “we planted the prairie because we simply thought it was beautiful, but it’s incredibly rewarding to know that we’re also improving water quality and protecting these special animals.”

This unique project serves as a model for protecting waterways throughout the Driftless Area. It was made possible through a partnership with FLOW and the Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA).  MEA and FLOW provided funding to the Conservancy to protect lands along the Lower Wisconsin River, with a focus on improving water quality.

Driftless Conservancy