Research & Conservation
The 7,400-acre Badger property lies less than an hour away from the University of Wisconsin campus. Over the years, many UW faculty have taken a keen interest in Badger, recognizing the opportunity to introduce their students to this magnificent landscape rich in cultural and natural history, and to undertake original research on diverse aspects of land reclamation, restoration, large-scale management and other topics.
The Alliance has a long history of encouraging and facilitating research at Badger. A number of research projects and graduate-level theses have been completed at Badger.
Monarch populations across the globe are declining. Mainly due to habitat loss in their breeding and overwintering grounds. Other factors affecting their population size include pesticide usage, changing climate, disease, and much more. More information about how all of these are affecting monarch populations can be found on the Monarch Joint Venture Website: https://monarchjointventure.org/monarch-biology/threats.
To determine where monarchs are being affected the most, data collection needs to occur, and to do this, citizen-science projects were created. With the help of citizens from all over the nation, large amounts of data can be collected to see where monarchs are present and how large their populations are in that area. This data helps scientists to determine conservation actions, such as listing monarchs as a threatened species, habitat restoration, education and more.
The property has several restored or remnant prairies, including the “Kindschi Prairie” situated along Highway 12, south of the main Badger entrance gate; the “Fordham Prairie” that was planted near the main entrance to Badger in memory of the former Badger Plant manager, Dave Fordham, who envisioned a great portion of the Army facility turned into native prairie grassland; and, the “Hillside Prairie,” a 16-acre patch of native prairie that is one of the few extant prairies once a part of the original 14,000-acre Sauk Prairie.
To the degree possible under current ownership, the Alliance assists with management on these and other sites. Work parties help pull invasive weeds, cut and herbicide weedy non-native shrubs, and monitor unwanted plants.
Each year the Alliance plans and hosts volunteer work parties on prairie sites at Badger. Check our calendar of events for this season’s work parties and events.
Goats as Living Tools for Restoration
Cherrie Nolden, a local farmer and graduate student at UW-Madison, conducted a study to test the viability of long-term browsing on invasive plants at Badger. As it turns out, goats LOVE some of the more intrusive species, including honeysuckle, autumn and Russian olive, prickly ash, multiflora rose, and others. Goats are efficient browsers, mowing their paddock to stubble in just 24 hours, leaving behind nutrients to help nourish the soil. This makes them not only excellent multi-purpose farm animals, but restoration specialists as well!
Volunteer-based Plant Monitoring
UW-Madison Nelson Institute faculty and students have partnered with the Alliance to develop a system of monitoring invasive plants at a priority restoration site (Hillside Prairie at Badger) each year. This type of monitoring is critical for assessing the success of ongoing restoration efforts. Given limited resources, one way to obtain this necessary data is with volunteer citizen scientists. Volunteers learn how to identify several invasive plant species, gain experience in vegetation sampling, and contribute to our long-term stewardship of this important prairie remnant.