University of Wisconsin–Madison

Category: Project Updates

Project Update, November 2017

Monitoring plant species composition at Johnson Wildlife Area in the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area, 2017

Over the past several months, the members of the grazing public grasslands team have been busy conducting field work, collecting data, and leading presentations in grassland management. This blog post will introduce new projects and provide updates on current projects led by the members of the grasslands team.

Farmers, conservation managers, and local neighbors gathering at one of the pasture walks at Buena Vista Wildlife Area, 2017

PhD student Greta Landis spent some of her summer this year on outreach and presentations for the grazing project, including two pasture walk events with land managers and graziers at Hook Lake and Buena Vista Wildlife Areas.

A sign guiding visitors toward the pasture walk entrance, 2017

The walks provided a chance for farmers, conservation managers, and the general public to give their feedback on grazing management and learn about some of the successes, challenges, and research findings involved with grazing.

Despite rainy and cloudy conditions, visitors expressed their interest in learning about conservational grazing, 2017

Even through the rainy weather, the two events attracted approximately 50 people. Many visitors encouraged the graziers, land managers, and graduate students to host future events, focusing on the impact of grazing on vegetation and on grassland bird conservation. Feedback also suggested new topic areas for research, such as pollinator conservation and water quality issues. The team would like to thank those who attended the walks and provided feedback for future events.


The Ecological Society of America hosted their annual conference in Portland, Oregon. The conference attracted more than 4,500 researchers, students, and educators across the United States, 2017 (Image provided by

On August 6th, project leader Randy Jackson and Greta attended the Ecological Society of America (ESA) conference in Portland, Oregon. The ESA is a nationwide, professional organization of ecological scientists that host annual conferences, attracting researchers and educators to discuss leading projects in ecology and environmentalism. They delivered a presentation on the collaborative research approach used by the grazing group, and met with other ecologists working on public-private partnerships in grassland conservation all across the nation.

A cover photo of the Greener Pastures segment of the WDNR magazine, April 2017 (Image provided by WDNR Magazine)

Professor Mark Renz was interviewed for an article for the Greener Pastures segment in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) magazine released in April. The article covered the benefits of conservation grazing on public land, detailing the review process the WDNR undergoes when considering a piece of land for conservation grazing. The article also discussed the impacts that conservation grazing has on local grassland bird nesting habitats, explaining that conservation grazing will provide sustainable environments for nesting, ultimately increasing the quality of game for hunters.

Click here to read the full article:

Undergraduate Student Lauren Jorgensen soil sampling, 2017

Undergraduate student Lauren Jorgensen and Greta continued soil sampling at Buena Vista, Hook Lake, and Johnson Wildlife Areas, monitoring changes in soil nutrients and soil structure to relate to vegetation changes.


Graduate student Jacob Grace (right) and research assistant Lanette Martell (left) collecting soil samples, 2017



Graduate student Jacob Grace spent his second year of fieldwork collecting data on shrub regrowth, plant community composition, and forage abundance and utilization in response to grazing and shrub suppression treatments. Data analysis is still in progress, but shrubs at the Buena Vista Wildlife Area, one of his three grazing research sites, are showing visible signs of damage and reduction by three years of rotational grazing. Once data analysis is complete, he hopes to find more developed and conclusive relationships between rotational grazing and grassland traits.

In addition to his fieldwork, Jacob also conducted video interviews with graziers and land managers at three grazing sites: Buena Vista, Hook Lake, and Kickapoo River Wildlife Areas. Jacob intends to use information from these interviews and their perspective on grazing to create an informational video about the Grazing Public Lands Project and its endeavors for the general public.