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

In the last issue of The Badger Birder, I was delighted to announce that WSO had signed an agreement to purchase an additional 104 acres next to our Honey Creek Preserve. We are now rolling out our general fundraising campaign so we can complete what is the largest initiative in the Society’s 77-year history.

The Dischler Addition is particularly stunning in autumn

We’re in the process of sending a mailing to all WSO members asking for your financial support. Please be generous in helping us expand this beautiful and ecologically significant holding in the Baraboo Hills.

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.

Donations of all sizes are critical. Our overall goal is $550,000. This covers the $500,000 purchase price, along with closing costs, 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 already raised 81% of the funds needed, thanks to support from Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund and several early large gifts and bequests from our members. But we still need to raise nearly $110,000.

 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.

Wendy and Tom Schultz display the painting of the Passenger Pigeons created by Tom from which prints will be used to thank significant donors to the Honey Creek campaign.

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.

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 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