posted on May 31, 2005 00:00
3,100-Acre Wisconsin Habitat Jewel Dedicated
Jefferson Marsh is State’s Largest Public Hunting Opportunity between Madison and Milwaukee
Jefferson, Wisc. – May 27, 2005 – Today, Pheasants Forever (PF), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) dedicated the 3,100-acre Jefferson Marsh Wildlife Area. The new Jefferson Marsh is the result of a collaborative effort between the three organizations. All 3,100 acres are now open to public recreation; including, hiking, hunting, and wildlife viewing.
The Zeloski family, owners of the property since the 1940s, decided to sell their land for conservation purposes, rather than for development. The process began when they enrolled 2,700 acres in the Wetlands Reserve Program and received payments of $1.9 million for those acres. The Wetlands Reserve Program, through the NRCS, helps landowners restore wetlands that have been converted for agriculture with a permanent or 30-year easement to preserve the wetlands for the future.
“The Wetlands Reserve Program offers farmers and landowners the opportunity to restore the land’s original wetland functions, which improves wildlife habitat, water quality, and reduces flooding,” said Pat Leavenworth, NRCS state conservationist for Wisconsin. “It also helps relieve some of the financial pressure that farmers face to sell or develop those lands.”
PF then coordinated the remaining $1.6 million of the purchase with help from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. Following the purchase, PF transferred the property to the WDNR. The 4.5-mile long tract is now managed by the WDNR and open to the public, making it the largest public wildlife area between Madison and Milwaukee.
“The new Jefferson Marsh Wildlife Area is the perfect example of what we all can accomplish through partnerships,” explained Jeff Gaska, PF’s regional wildlife biologist for Wisconsin. “Thanks to the hard work of the Jefferson County Pheasants Forever Chapter, the vision of the Wisconsin DNR, and the assistance of the NRCS, this new Jefferson Marsh Wildlife Area will be a crown jewel for Wisconsin wildlife lovers forever.”
The new Jefferson Marsh Wildlife Area includes 2,700 acres of wetlands and the largest tamarack swamp in southern Wisconsin. It also provides wildlife habitat for a myriad of game and non-game species; including, pheasants, deer, turkeys, foxes, coyotes, waterfowl, and song birds. In fact, there are also threatened and endangered species benefiting from the protected wildlife area; including showy lady’s slipper orchids, great egrets, American bitterns, king rails, and Blanding’s turtles.
Since PF’s inception in 1982, PF has participated in over 800 land acquisitions totaling nearly 100,000 acres nationwide. To date, this Jefferson Marsh Wildlife Area has been PF’s largest single acquisition. All PF land acquisitions are turned over to the appropriate state and/or federal agency and opened for public hunting and other compatible outdoor recreation activities.
PF is a national non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. Such efforts benefit landowners and wildlife alike. There are currently 110,000 PF members in 600 chapters nationwide. Wisconsin accounts for over 7,600 of those members in 30 chapters across the state.