MADISON, Wis. – Milwaukee County's UW-Extension Natural Areas Program has received an award honoring its creative partnerships to maintain and improve 10,000 acres of natural areas within the Milwaukee County Park System. The 2012 Virginia M. Kline Award for Excellence in Community-Based Restoration is among the Leopold Restoration Awards presented by the Friends of the Arboretum and the Aldo Leopold Foundation Oct. 11 at the UW Arboretum, Madison.
“The award is a direct result of the nearly 40,000 hours citizens and partners donated between 2009 and 2011 toward natural area restoration projects to maintain this vital publicly owned resource,” said Natural Areas Coordinator Brian Russart of UW-Extension. “The connection staff have made to the community allowed us to undertake restoration activities on 2,672 acres of natural areas and install 23 miles of hiking trails.”
“The value of volunteers and partner organization donations of labor, materials and financing over the last three years exceeds one million dollars,” Russart said.
On behalf of the award judges, Darcy Kind said, “This program serves as an important role model because of its utilization of volunteers and partnering with organizations and local businesses to accomplish impressive restoration of natural resources in an urban area. Like Virginia Kline, Natural Areas Coordinator Brian Russart’s efforts have helped many understand that we can accomplish more to protect and restore the land by working together.”
During the past four years, the Natural Areas Program staff also has mentored more than 30 student interns from five universities and colleges.
UW-Extension, http://www.uwex.edu/, includes Cooperative Extension offices in 72 counties and three tribal nations, 12 Small Business Development Centers and Outreach and E-Learning programs delivered via the 26 UW System campuses and distance-learning channels, as well as the statewide networks of Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television.