Faville Grove 2009: Many Hands: Much Progress
Itís amazing what you can accomplish in a year with a whole bunch of volunteers, an occasional handful of contract workers, and a full-time employee to catalyze it all. 2009 was our first full year working with Lars Higdon, Faville Grove Sanctuaryís resident ecologist and land steward, and weíve seen the pace of progress in the sanctuary increase tremendously as a result.
We completed the first year of Faville Groveís TogetherGreen Volunteer Days grant from National Audubon and Toyota at the end of May with a record 2155 volunteer hours. We were able for the first time to continue our usual fall schedule of biweekly volunteer work parties pretty much throughout the winter and spring, shifting from seed-collecting to brush cutting to garlic mustard patrol. Lars also initiated a volunteer monitoring program, with frog and toad surveys beginning in early spring, and breeding bird surveys beginning in late spring.
The sanctuary successfully competed for a second year of funding through the TogetherGreen program based on our record of accomplishment in year one and our plans for year two. And our second year is well on track to break the record set in the first, between regular volunteer work parties, special volunteer projects, and assorted volunteer visits to the sanctuary by school and scout groups. One of the stated goals for year two of the grant was to increase the average size of our many smaller work parties, so we are particularly pleased that turnout for our Wednesday seed-collecting parties has roughly doubled to six or eight volunteers each week. We also competed successfully for a two-year State Wildlife Grant from DNR. This grant will allow us to focus additional resources on canary grass and brush control within the sanctuary.
We had another terrific summer intern crew this year, with four students from UW-Madison and one from UW-Stevens Point. Of the many successful educational initiatives undertaken by Madison Audubon, none is more intensive than this twelve-week, full-time immersion experience in restoration ecology. Although the number of individuals involved is small, the effects on the participants are transformative (see John Pinzlís article in the September issue). Regardless of what path in life these curious and enthusiastic young men and women pursue, they are sure to do better by the environment for the experience.
So, for all this support, what do we have to show for it? Lots of dead weeds, for one thing. Many cords of firewood removed from our savanna restorations, and gargantuan piles of invasive brush and branches burned. A barn full of prairie and savanna seeds gathered, dried, cleaned, mixed and planted! Useful data on the amphibian and avian inhabitants of the sanctuary. A good start on a new sanctuary website with more improvements to come. More issues of our electronic sanctuary newsletter to keep you informed of sanctuary developments. A really handsome informational kiosk, routed wood signs, and a map of the sanctuary to help orient visitors. More land acquired (see November newsletter). Another wetland restoration completed (see November Newsletter). And a sanctuary looking more beautiful and diverse than ever. And perhaps most important of all for the future of the sanctuary, an ambitious plan prepared by DNR with input from an external advisory team that included volunteer sanctuary manager David Musolf, approved by the state Natural Resources Board, creating the Glacial Heritage Area that incorporates the sanctuary and other MAS-protected properties into a comprehensive plan for outdoor preservation and recreation in western Jefferson County and nearby portions of Dane and Dodge Counties (See November Newsletter).
Your contributions of time and financial support remain key to all of these successes. Many thanks to all.
Faville Grove Sanctuary:
Preserving and restoring a diverse landscape and connecting people to the land.