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Print

Wisconsin DNR adds 655 acres to wildlife areas

October 29, 2012 at 07:21 AM

The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Natural Resources Board has added 655 acres of Rock County wildlife habitat by accepting a pair of land donations and recommending a $540,000 purchase.

The board’s decision this week means about 360 acres were added to the Avon Bottoms Wildlife Area, which is about 15 miles southwest of Janesville. Another 295 acres were added in the town of Center to preserve pheasant habitat.

The Avon Bottoms acquisition includes 165 acres purchased from a Brodhead couple. The purchase was funded by State Stewardship bonds and is subject to approval by Gov. Scott Walker, according to a Janesville Gazette report (http://bit.ly/PwPluQ ).

As part of the board’s decision, the state will also accept 199 acres donated by the National Heritage Land Trust.

“This is adjacent to (a 348-acre) tract we purchased in 2008,” said Caleb Pourchot, a National Heritage Land Trust conservation specialist. “All the properties are part of the Avon Bottoms Wildlife Area, which is an amazing natural resource, especially for birds.”

Mike Foy, who manages Department of Natural Resources lands in Rock and Green counties, says Avon Bottoms is one of the most diverse properties he manages.

Michael Moore, Avon’s town chairman, opposed the acquisition because of maintenance costs. He said the state already owns about 25 percent of the rural township’s area but doesn’t provide enough aid to keep town roads repaired.

“There’s eight miles of roads that border DNR land which cost more than $20,000 to maintain, yet we get $8,000 in state aid for them,” Moore said.

Richard Steffes, the DNR’s real estate director, said the problem might not be as significant going forward because the formulas for DNR payments to local governments in lieu of taxes changed this year to try to make them fairer.

“We’ll see how effective it is,” Steffes said.

The acquisition in the town of Center was a 295-acre gift from the Rock River Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever.

Pheasants Forever will continue to maintain grassland areas of the two parcels, saving the DNR the expense, Foy said.

The land provides nesting and winter cover for pheasants, waterfowl and other birds, said Doug Fendry, a wildlife director for Pheasants Forever.

___

Information from: The Janesville Gazette, http://www.gazetteextra.com


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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