Prairie Sands Chapter of Prairie Enthusiasts to hold tour on June 2

This spring, Marquette, Waushara, and Waupaca county members of The Prairie Sands Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts are extending invitations to tour their privately-owned prairies and savannas. The first tour will be on Saturday, June 2 at 10 am at the Westfield property of Shelley and David Hamel, which is named Hugh Iltis Prairie and Savanna after Wisconsin legendary ecologist and educator, Hugh Iltis. Enjoy a leisurely trek through rolling fields and open woodlands in the Central Sands region of Wisconsin and learn how this 27-year restoration of prairie and oak savanna has become an important piece in the statewide Karner Blue butterfly recovery effort. Prompted by the discovery of a small population of federally-endangered Karner Blue butterflies in 1989, learn how the Hamels with assistance of US Fish and Wildlife Service (Partners for Wildlife) have transformed barely two acres of native lupine harboring a very tiny population of Karners into the present 80 acres of rolling blue hills filled with lupine and home to substantial numbers of Karners. This year, weather has delayed spring by two weeks, so there is no guarantee visitors will be able to find any Karners, but this is usually when the Karners’ first flight is expected. Prepare for easy walking conditions but wear long pants tucked into socks sprayed with tick repellent. Bring a sack lunch and end the tour overlooking a 20-acre tamarack/kettle bog that is home to carnivorous pitcher plants, sundews, and other unusual wetland flora. A new boardwalk makes it possible to get out into the bog, and close-focus binoculars are always handy to have.