Riverway Board Discusses Apple Trees and Bumble Bees

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board met in Prairie du Sac on June 9 to conduct a regular monthly business meeting. The guest speakers for the meeting were Curt Meine and Rob Nurre of the Badger Apple Corps project. Meine explained the idea for the project began as Mike Mossman, former Department of Natural Resources ecologist, was conducting surveys at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Mossman noted there were many apple trees associated with the locations of former farmsteads that were displaced by the powder plant operation. The heirloom varieties represented by these apple trees led to the idea of trying to preserve the genetic lines of apples and to connect the descendants of the farms to the land via the apple trees. Many people assisted with grafting of trees and a small nursery was established. Later, trees were given to family members of the displaced farmers and, eventually, trees were planted in public places around the Sauk Prairie area. Meine said the project continues to grow and is a labor of love for those involved. To watch a video or learn more about the project, see saukprairievision.org/badger-apple-corps-project.

Executive Director Mark Cupp reported he learned about another interesting effort called the Wisconsin Bumble Bee Brigade. Former Riverway Board Chair Don Greenwood had snapped a photograph of a bumblebee on the flowering lupine on DNR land at Cassell Prairie in Sauk County in May. His curiosity regarding the possibility of the creature being a rare rusty patched bumblebee led him to a DNR specialist who said the pollinator was actually a brown belted bumblebee. He then informed Greenwood about the Bumble Bee Brigade whose mission is to “improve understanding, management and conservation of Wisconsin Bumble Bees.” The project’s website, www.bumblebeewatch.org, contains a wealth of information regarding bumblebees and how to get involved in providing data to track the bees in Wisconsin. 

The board elected new officers for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The new chair is Gigi LaBudde of Spring Green, who succeeds the recently retired Jerry Dorscheid of Arena. Vice chair is Steve Wetter of Boscobel and secretary is Randy Poelma of LaCrosse. 

The next meeting of the Riverway Board will be held July 14 in Muscoda. For more information, contact Mark E. Cupp, LWSRB executive director, at (608) 739-3188 or (608) 739-2179 (cell) or e-mail mark.cupp@wisconsin.gov.

Photo caption: Former Riverway Board Chair Don Greenwood photographed the bumblebee pictured above on flowering lupine in Sauk County in May. He suspected it was a rare rusty patched bumblebee but the DNR determined it was a brown belted bumblebee.