The majority of the funding for the purchase was secured through a North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant with additional support from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
In the 1970’s the land was acquired by Xcel Energy’s subsidiary, Northern States Power, as a potential nuclear power plant site.
“Landmark’s community of support is thrilled by this acquisition,” said Executive Director Lindsey Ketchel. “To go from a potential nuclear power plant to permanent land protection is a pretty amazing win for conservation.”
Xcel Energy conveyed an adjacent 990-acre property to DNR in 2017, referred to as the Tyrone Tract. The DNR has been a key land management partner to the power company through the years. Xcel Energy also made land-use decisions for their larger holdings in cooperation with the Town of Peru. The Town’s goals included continued access to agricultural lands and preserving the rural character while protecting important habitat like prairie and oak barrens.
“There are very few opportunities left in western Wisconsin to secure unique lands and landscapes for the next generations. The Lower Chippewa River Valley is one of these opportunities,” said Dan Baumann, DNR Secretary’s Director for the 19 counties of west-central Wisconsin. “Miles of river and adjacent uplands along the Lower Chippewa are home to some of the most diverse plants and animals found anywhere in Wisconsin.
To truly protect the values that these natural resources share with residents and visitors, we need to protect and connect the best of the best to ensure their place in our world for years and years to come.
[This acquisition] is an excellent example of persistence, cooperation and the ability to achieve goals larger than any one interest,” Baumann continued. “The lands that have been secured in perpetuity within the former Tyrone property in Dunn and Pepin Counties become another piece of land that helps protect the landscape. The Department of Natural Resources is proud to be part of this great work.”
Landmark’s Conservation Director, Rick Remington expressed gratitude to the project’s longtime partners, including some key personnel at DNR, the Lower Chippewa River Alliance, Beaver Creek Reserve and the Dunn County Fish and Game Club to name a few. “This area has been a focus of land protection efforts for years and has a long history of cooperation among partners,” said Remington. “Thousands of acres create a complex of diverse conserved habitat that is open to the public for equally diverse recreational opportunities. The Lower Chippewa contains unique ecological communities and more rare species than any area of comparable size in Wisconsin.”
This property will be open to the public for hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, cross-country skiing, and wildlife viewing, and raises the total acres protected by Landmark Conservancy to over 40,000.
Landmark Conservancy works with private landowners in northwest Wisconsin who wish to conserve their land in perpetuity, and with local municipalities, state government, and federal entities to create public preserves and trails for all to enjoy. Landmark has developed a strategic conservation focus that will result in the protection of targeted areas rich in biodiversity and resilient to climate change. Conserving larger, intact tracts of land will aid terrestrial and aquatic species in adapting to their changing habitats.