Acquisition will preserve habitat for dwindling sharp-tailed grouse.
There aren’t many places in Wisconsin where the sharp-tailed grouse still dances. The birds once performed their extravagant courtship rituals across much of the state, but these days are only found in a few distant patches that meet their specific habitat needs.
One of those places is the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Management Area in the northern reaches of the St. Croix River watershed. A coalition of public agencies and nonprofits just helped push the Barrens’ north unit past an important threshold by purchasing 1,400 acres from the Lyme Timber Company.
“All of the research we’ve had over many years is that you need at least 5,000 contiguous acres of pine-oak barren habitat for sharp-tailed grouse,” says Nancy Christel, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist. “Up until this donation, we have not had that amount of land.”