In spring 2020, Bird City Wisconsin awarded small grants to six Bird City communities: Bayfield, Fond du Lac, Madison, Ozaukee County, Sheboygan, and Wausau. Here's what the City of Madison accomplished with its award.
Jeff Steele, a board member of both the Friends of Starkweather Creek and Wild Ones Madison, reports that the Friends, the Eken Park Neighborhood Association, Wild Ones, and the City of Madison Engineering Department made excellent progress reclaiming and restoring a small wet-mesic native prairie along Starkweather Creek in Madison.
Bird City Wisconsin contributed $190 to the project. The sum was meant to cover the purchase of a fall bioswale seed mix, but the Engineering Department soon discovered it could provide many of the more common species in the mix from their own collection efforts. “This gave us a rare opportunity to focus our funds on more conservative species not typically included in restorations due to their price,” Jeff writes.
He and his colleagues created a custom seed mix from Prairie Moon Nursery in which they tried to include all the species that John T. Curtis listed in The Vegetation of Wisconsin as members of the wet prairie/sedge meadow continuum. The custom mix ultimately included 40 species of grasses, sedges, and wildflowers.
“Rare species such as hairy valerian, snowy campion, prairie phlox, pale spiked lobelia, and bottle gentian were selected for their showiness and ecological benefit,” Jeff writes. “When combined with the seed collected by our volunteers as well as the seeds from City Engineering, 109 species were placed on the site, providing one of the most diverse, complete wet prairie restoration seedings I have had the pleasure of working with.”
Jeff says he’s hopeful that the seeding will provide an adequate foundation for the site to recover to its pre-settlement condition, serving as an example of how to achieve success in wet prairie restorations and guiding other projects in the watershed.
Bird City Wisconsin's small grants were intended to kickstart local projects that help Bird City communities create and protect bird habitat, educate residents about the many positive interactions between birds and people, and reduce threats to birds.