Wisconsin landowners have a unique opportunity to receive an ecological assessment of their property for free.
On the Lettau family farm in Winnebago County, an appreciation for the land runs deep.
“A lot more deer, and we have pheasants came back,” they told us.
“It’s a blessing that my family has been able to live here for almost 100 years now and take care of this land, but it’s also a responsibility to be a good steward of the land,” Chris Lettau said.
In 2015, the Lettaus learned about a new program offered through the DNR, paid for through private donations to the Wisconsin Endangered Resources Fund.
Through a lottery system, 100 landowners would be selected to receive a free comprehensive ecological report on their property — an assessment that would normally cost more than $300.
“Looking at the application, it just seemed to fit perfectly for the goals that we’ve always had for this farm,” Kay Lettau said.
The Lettau farm was chosen, and that summer a DNR biologist spent a day taking photos and gathering research.
“It was a real intensive look at the farm — the creeks, the ponds, the prairie, what species we have, what species we can hopefully improve the habitat for if we make minor tweaks to our conservation practices we already have in place,” Chris said.
Since then, the Lettaus have taken a number of steps to improve the habitat, water clarity and soil on their farm, including planting clover for pollinators — all triggered by the assessment they received.
“Taking a look at your farm that have always valued and getting somebody out here to check on it and report on it and give you that pat on the back, you’re doing a good job, but here you can do a few other things,” Kay said.
The deadline to apply for the landowner lottery is January 31.