We’re happy to share the good news that today Groundswell purchased 35 acres of wetland and woods at the Becker Lake Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) in northern Columbia County.

Like our purchase of wetlands last week for the Anderson Waterfowl Production Area in southern Columbia County, this is a wonderful example of what conservation-minded landowners can do for our wildlife.

Becker Lake WPA is rich in wildlife, especially grassland birds. Grassland birds are among the most imperiled group of birds in the United States. Total populations have declined more than 40 percent since 1966.

Becker Lake was one of the study sites for BJ Byers, Groundswell’s Conservationist, as part of his 2017 master’s degree. BJ studied a variety of grassland birds and waterfowl inhabiting the WPA, including Eastern Meadowlark, Henslow’s Sparrow (Threatened in WI), Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink, Dickcissel, Savannah Sparrow, Blue-winged Teal, and Mallard.

Becker Lake is one of thirteen WPA’s in Columbia County. It covers 360 acres of wetland, grasslands, and woods. The WPA is managed by the Leopold Wetland Management District of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for breeding and migrating ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. WPAs also provide important habitat for deer, turkey, pheasants, and other wildlife. All the WPAs in Columbia County are open for hunting, fishing, and trapping (subject to applicable Federal and State laws) as well as wildlife observation, hiking, cross-country skiing, nature study, and photography. Groundswell will donate the property to the Fish and Wildlife Service for long-term ownership and management.

Funding to purchase the property came from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Ducks Unlimited, Madison Audubon, Pheasants Forever, and Groundswell supporters including donors to our Norman Anderson Conservation Opportunities Fund. Thanks to Ducks Unlimited for its role in securing the federal acquisition funds.