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Ozaukee Washington Land Trust creates native prairie with support from ATC

The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust is creating a native prairie and enhancing existing pollinator habitat within the Riverbend Nature Preserve thanks to a $3,250 grant from American Transmission Co.’s Pollinator Habitat program

The Riverbend Nature Preserve, located in the Town of Trenton just east of West Bend, is one of the few large tracts of undeveloped land along the Milwaukee River in Washington County. OWLT plans to create a 1.5-mile diverse native prairie and enhance 4 acres of existing pollinator habitat within an ATC right-of-way at Riverbend.

In mid-November, OWLT employees and volunteers, including the stewardship team from Neighborhood House Milwaukee, conducted a prescribed burn to rid the area of non-native and invasive species. OWLT plans to reseed the area with native plants in the coming months.

Prescribed burning is a common prairie management tool. Many of Wisconsin’s native prairie grasses and flowers developed adaptations to survive fire. Their deep roots and buds beneath the soil enable them to withstand fire, while shallow-rooted, non-native plants succumb to the heat. Fire stimulates the growth of native plants, while also returning valuable nutrients to the soil.

The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust works to preserve the water resources, natural areas and working lands of Ozaukee and Washington Counties. The Trust offers services to property owners and communities throughout Ozaukee and Washington Counties in the areas of land conservation, education and stewardship. Since 1992, more than 6,200 acres of forests, wetlands and open space have been protected through acquisition and conservation easements.

ATC’s Pollinator Habitat Program promotes planting low-growing vegetation within a transmission line right-of-way to beautify communities in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system. The Program provides financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes in ATC’s service area, as well as entities that allow public access to ATC rights-of-way (e.g. nature preserves, non-profits or public land managers).

Applications for ATC’s Community Planting Program and Pollinator Habitat Program are accepted July 1 through Sept. 30 each year, and recipients will be selected by the end of the calendar year. Awards range from $100 to $5,000. Since 2013, ATC has awarded approximately 240 communities and organizations with funds totaling more than $425,000. Additional information and program applications can be found at atc-GrowSmart.com.