Focus on Friends - The Friends of the Bird Sanctuary

The Bird Sanctuary is located in the far northwestern corner of Wisconsin is a  4,000-acre preserve is the Douglas County Wildlife Management Area (DCWMA).
The Bird Sanctuary is managed by the Wisconsin DNR, which owns 994 acres and leases the remainder from Douglas County.  In 1968 the DNR designated 240 acres of the property as the Solon Springs Sharptail Barrens State Natural Area.
The Friends of the Bird Sanctuary, has an important mission: to protect and preserve the Bird Sanctuary, get people involved and spread the word about this priceless resource and the important role it plays in supporting our region’s biodiversity. As part of the educational outreach, the Friends sponsor an annual series of fun programs and outings, many of them with a hands-on outdoor component.  They’re led by wildlife biologists, naturalists, historians, and other experts from around the region.
Members work hard on behalf of the Bird Sanctuary, they also have a good time at these events and at the annual fundraising celebration.  Everyone is welcome at every single one of these free events. Click here for a membership form.
In partnership with the Wisconsin DNR and West Wisconsin Land Trust, as well as a growing number of generous donors,the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary is currently working to acquire an adjacent 25-acre parcel that’s already been platted for a subdivision.  Although it’s not a huge chunk of land, it’s adjacent to some especially critical habitat that’s been designated as the Solon Springs Sharptail Barrens State Natural Area.
The Bird Sanctuary is one of our region’s final remnants of grassland savanna—small stands of pine and oak sprinkled through open grassland, with a few clumps of hazel and aspen thrown in for good measure.  Until the arrival of European settlers, naturally-occurring fires created an ever-shifting mosaic of these grassland clearings, which are sometimes called “northern pine savannas” or “northern oak savannas.”
Early settlers didn’t think much of these places.  They called them “barrens.”  Over the years, as newcomers plowed fields, planted trees and suppressed fires, these open areas gradually disappeared.  These grasslands—and the wildlife they support—once covered over a third of Wisconsin.  Today fewer than 50,000 acres remain, and 4,000 of those acres are right here in the Bird Sanctuary.
DSC_0055Elsewhere, much of this under-appreciated habitat is in isolated pockets too small to maintain the genetic diversity that’s necessary for species’ long-term survival.  Northern Wisconsin has only a few remaining contiguous pieces of grassland savanna that are as large as the one preserved in The Bird Sanctuary.
With your help, we can protect this important link in the “Trail of Pine Barrens” that stretches from Crex Meadow in Burnett County to Moquah Barrens in Bayfield County.  Because the greatest threat to the habitat is loss of continuity, protecting The Bird Sanctuary will ensure the preservation of a more viable and self-contained living pine barrens in northwest Wisconsin.  This place matters, and we need your help to protect it.
Click for information about How to Get Here, Our Pine Barrens Native Plant Garden, Plants and Animals in the Bird Sanctuary, Managing the Habitat, Financials, and Our Board.
To download a brochure, click on the link below (requires Adobe Reader):
FOTBS Brochure 7-07