Promoting the enjoyment, study, and conservation of Wisconsin's birds.

WE’RE GETTING THERE!

The dedication and effort of WSO’s Honey Creek team working on the purchase of the 104 acre addition to our nature preserve in the Baraboo Hills is paying off.

As of Sept. 22, we had raised $463,000 toward our goal of $550,000 goal. That’s 84%! But that still leaves us needing to raise an additional $86,000.

Our overall goal of $550,000 covers the $500,000 purchase price, along with closing costs, moderate fundraising expenses and funds for initial land management on the new property. This includes garlic mustard control, removal of old barbed wire and erosion control on a steep old-farm road.

We’ve gotten this far by the combination of:

1. Securing almost half of what we needed through a grant from the state’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program, which for many years has assisted efforts to preserve and protect important lands.

2. Prior to our active fundraising campaign, several extremely generous donors committed to providing about $130,000.

3. Our active fundraising campaign has so far raised about $82,000.

Ironically, now is when the hard work really begins. Raising those last dollars can be labor intensive, exhaustive and slow. Many of the passionate higher value donors have already come forward and the additional new donors required to close the gap become more difficult to identify.

This is where the 1,500 other members of WSO come in. We need you to step up, dig down and make a generous contribution. Any donation you can afford will be much appreciated. Nothing would make me happier, however, than getting a boatload of $250, $500, and $1,000 donations in the coming weeks.

As an added incentive for your support we are providing some special thank you items. Renowned artist and WSO member Thomas Schultz has created and donated the rights to a limited-edition fine art print of his painting “Nearing Final Days—Passenger Pigeons” to the fundraising campaign. Donors contributing $1,000 or more will receive a signed and numbered copy of this beautiful print. In addition, Tom will add a personal remarque to the prints for all donations of $5,000 or more.

Donors giving $500 to $999 will receive the wonderful “Birds of Wisconsin” book by Owen J. Gromme with an introduction by Samuel D. Robbins Jr. Those giving $250 to $499 will receive a CD of Anthony Philip Heinrich’s “The Columbiad” symphony, inspired by the Passenger Pigeon, and performed by the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra.

I’ve been fortunate to work with an exceptional team on this fundraising effort. I want to give mighty shout-outs to Kim Kreitinger, Tom and Wendy Schultz, Carl and Barbara Schwartz, Levi Wood, Mary Korker, Charlie Luthin and Peter McKeever. In addition to their own generous financial support, they all have labored for many hours negotiating the purchase, seeking grants and designing and implementing our general fundraising efforts.

You can show your appreciation and support for them – and your commitment to WSO’s mission -- by contributing as much as you are able to expand this beautiful and ecologically significant holding in the Baraboo Hills. We need your help to complete what is the largest initiative in the Society’s 77-year history.

By acquiring this neighboring property we are increasing our preserve, already a State Natural Area, to a total of almost 372 acres. The land we’re purchasing includes high quality hemlock and pine relicts, oak savanna and diverse woodlands and wetlands that support several species of statewide conservation concern, including nesting Cerulean Warblers, Hooded Warblers and Acadian Flycatchers.

The Baraboo Hills is designated one of the “Last Great Places” by the Nature Conservancy, which itself owns and manages hundreds of acres adjacent to WSO’s preserve, because of the rare rocks, plants and animals found here.

WSO was established in 1939. For much of our history, the Honey Creek Valley has been a vital part of our organization’s culture, furthering our mission to promote the enjoyment, study and conservation of Wisconsin’s birds. Through ownership of the Honey Creek Nature Preserve, WSO has ensured the preservation of the richly diversified plant and bird life of this special property in a special place.

WSO is acquiring the property in two steps, the northern section by this December, and the southern section by July 2017.

Our existing land is basically a large “L”-shape. The new parcel will fill in the corner of the “L” giving us a continuous rectangular property. The new parcel also fits well with the landscape features on our current land. In particular, it will give us control over the entire stream valley on the north side of Sky View Rd. As of now we only own a portion of it.

 

By Michael John Jaeger, WSO President