By the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association
Members of the agricultural community, community leaders and others in central Wisconsin are moving closer to the creation of a conservancy area/wildlife refuge.
The Little Plover River Conservancy Project (LPRCP) was jump started thanks to pledges totaling $225,000 from local potato and vegetable farms:
  • Wysocki Family of Companies -- $50,000 pledge
  • Heartland Farms Inc. -- $50,000 pledge
  • Paramount Farms, Inc. -- $50,000 pledge
  • Worzella & Sons, Inc. -- $50,000 pledge
  • Plover River Farms, Inc. -- $25,000 pledge
Jim Wysocki, an owner of Wysocki Family of Companies, and  Jeremie Pavelski, president of Heartland Farms, helped spearhead the project, which arose when the Village of Plover received funding from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the Portage County Land Preservation Committee to purchase 140 acres for development into a conservancy area/wildlife refuge.
The Village of Plover then took an option to purchase 140 acres of land from Worzella & Sons, Inc., which the Village of Plover believed was the ideal location with suitable topography. The option was subject to the Worzellas being able to find another 140 acres to replace what they were selling. Louis Wysocki then sold the Worzellas 140 acres of his own land. The Village of Plover was then able to buy the land they needed and the Worzellas were able to maintain their total number of farming acres.
A master plan for the LPRCP was developed with the collaboration of multiple partners including area farmers, Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), Portage County, Village of Plover, other government entities, businesses, environmental groups, conservationists, universities, hunting/fishing enthusiasts and members of the general public.
The master plan features nature trails, a 2.5-acre pond with berms and a sledding hill, creation of a wetlands with elevated walkways,  establishment of new wetland areas in the Little Plover River headwaters, hunting and fishing access including handicapped accessible, blinds for wildlife watching, fish and wildlife habitats improvements and addition of pavilions/shelters and parking areas.
The finished master plan resonated well with the various stakeholders. Additionally, the project will promote Little Plover River flow improvements and enhancements on 1,000 acres of land adjacent to the Little Plover River.
Other objectives involve the development of cooperative crop growing strategies adjacent to the headwaters of the Little Plover River and construction of an all season agricultural education/nature center to educate and inform the public regarding Wisconsin’s rich agricultural traditions, crop facts, economic impact and good steward practices, while reinforcing the state’s commitment to natural resource and environmental protection.
Both Wysocki and Pavelski are excited about the prospect of agricultural education being included in this master plan particularly since they saw an outgrowth of appreciation for agriculture during Wisconsin Farm Technology Days 2014, a three-day outdoor event held on two farms in Plover, not far from the site of the proposed LPRCP.
“We want to continue to foster this growing enthusiasm for agriculture,” Wysocki said. “After all, these people are our friends and neighbors and we want to share with them what we do, especially since the ag industry is their world, too.”
Wysocki and Pavelski are board members of the Conservation of the Little Plover River, UA, LPRCP’s funding entity along with Tamas Houlihan, WPVGA Executive Director; Tom Davies, Village of Plover President;  and Dan Mahoney, Village of Plover Administrator. 
Implementing the master plan will require additional funding from private and public donors. To donate online, go to www.cfcwi.org/give/list-of-funds.html , scroll down the alphabetical list of funds until you get to the Conservation of the Little Plover River fund and click on its Donate Now button and you can proceed to the funding page.
 


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