2007 Leopold Restoration Award Winners Announced


The Leopold Restoration Awards Judges Committee, after carefully reviewing and considering many outstanding nominations, selected the Leopold Restoration Awards winners for 2007.

This year’s Virginia M. Kline Award for Excellence in Community-Based Ecological Restoration recognizes the work of the Friends of Troy Gardens, an organization that has applied a community-based approach to conservation and community building since 1995.

The decision of the judges was based on the fact that “the Friends of Troy Gardens have created and sustained a long-standing community-based project that has engaged community members both in restoration and community gardens in a diverse array of opportunities to learn and volunteer.”

In addition to land and garden management activities, the Friends of Troy Gardens sponsors extensive environmental education programs, which include a nationally recognized leadership program for teenagers, an award-winning children’s garden, and an innovative partnership with the University of Wisconsin. Learn more about the Friends of Troy Gardens.

A John T. Curtis Award for Career Excellence in Ecological Restoration goes to Richard Henderson. In selecting Rich for this award, the judges noted, “Henderson is clearly a major contributor to restoration as a professional, volunteer, leader and teacher in many settings and is acknowledged as a prairie expert by professionals, volunteers and amateurs alike.”

Rich has made significant contributions in the field of restoration in Wisconsin over the past 30 years. Currently working as a research scientist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, his numerous publications for the DNR are widely used and he is considered the expert on prairie plants and invertebrates within the department.

In addition to his regular work duties, Rich has been president of The Prairie Enthusiasts and part of the original team of people behind the creation of the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area, which includes more than 50,000 acres of grasslands in southwestern Wisconsin. He has also served as leader for numerous prairie restoration projects for The Nature Conservancy, where he organized, led and participated in countless volunteer work parties. Learn more about Richard Henderson.

This year’s Henry C. Greene Award for Innovative Approaches to Ecological Restoration was given to Russ Hefty. Through his work as Conservation Resource Specialist with the Madison Parks Division, Hefty oversees 14 conservation parks totaling 1600 acres. He has worked tirelessly over the years restoring Madison area prairies, controlling invasive species, conducting controlled burns, and creatively engaging a diverse array of volunteers and employees—all while working under the constraints of a limited budget.

This award recognizes Hefty’s recent efforts to restore the structure of Madison’s Cherokee Marsh and the Yahara River, rescuing a failing wetland system and replacing it with a more natural ecosystem.

In selecting Hefty for this award, the judges noted “This nomination detailed how Russ took what was known and continuously experimented, adapted and modified techniques that have contributed in a significant way to the body of understanding about aquatic restoration methodologies under trying and changing circumstances. This nomination was clearly worthy of this award.” Learn more about Russ Hefty.

Two John Nolen Awards for Excellence in Ecological Restoration Practices were given, one to Rose and Jim Sime for their work on the Snow Bottom State Natural Area and one to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Endangered Resources Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Project.

The work of the Simes in acquiring and restoring significant acreages was just one part of their impact in the formation of the Snow Bottom Natural Area. Snow Bottom State Natural Area, owned jointly by the DNR and private landowners, features a diverse and spectacular landscape encompassing the most significant remaining pine relicts in Wisconsin, as well as many other important and uncommon native plant communities.

Their influence has been far reaching in terms of engaging volunteers, creating learning opportunities, volunteering their time in the region, working with professionals, and skillful engagement of neighboring land owners in valuing and protecting the natural communities of their adjoining lands.

The judges were extremely impressed with this nomination, saying “Their (the Simes’) work illustrates an extraordinary contribution to the spectacular 20,900 acre landscape of Snow Bottom Natural Area and the people involved in setting aside this resource for generations to come. The Simes are truly a unified force for oak savanna and prairie restoration, having worked together in their retirement to turn overgrown fields into distinct native habitats.” Learn more about Jim and Rose Sime.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been working to restore the trumpeter swam population in Wisconsin since 1987. After initial attempts using mute swans as foster parents were unsuccessful, the project switched to a different approach. This second, and successful, attempt used a unique blend of partnerships and techniques from many private and public organizations and as well as many individuals.

The combined swan management expertise of the partners in the project (Milwaukee County Zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UW-Madison Department of Wildlife Ecology, and the International Crane Foundation, with the WDNR Bureau of Endangered Resources as the lead agency) resulted in innovative incubation, hatching, rearing and release techniques, which were ultimately highly successful.

This project has far exceeded the original recovery goal of having 20 breeding pairs of trumpeter swans in Wisconsin by the year 2000 as 111 nesting pairs were counted this year.

The judges chose this program for a Nolen Award based on the “significant challenges, innovations in approach, and research methods used in the successful reintroduction of the trumpeter swan to Wisconsin. This project involved numerous private and public partnerships, unique contributions through applied management research and implementation practices, and demonstrated outcomes.” Learn more about the Wisconsin trumpeter swan restoration project.

Established in 2002 in partnership with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Leopold Restoration Awards Program is named in honor of pioneering University of Wisconsin conservationist Aldo Leopold and recognizes excellence in ecological restoration.

Go to the Friends of the Arboretum website to learn more about the Leopold Awards program.

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.