At the end of a road named for his family, Jack Kussmaul lives on acres of protected land near Lancaster, Wisconsin. With his own hands, he's slowly returning it to its original natural glory—a prairie teeming with native species.
Long ago, I was interested in putting up fences and getting cattle to graze here. About 20 years ago, one friend suggested that I plant some prairie plants, so I gave it a shot.
I don't know anybody that has gotten more deeply involved in a project like this who knows less about it than I do. I made several mistakes along the way.
I remember I once planted spiderwort, not knowing what it was. When it came up, I'd found that I had planted it in what was already a spiderwort patch.
Visitors come year round and help me appreciate it all. It has become a gathering place; I'm not sure if it would have the same draw if there were cows grazing instead of a prairie to hike.
Maintaining my prairie has become so important that I've committed myself to working on it 40 days a year. I love how far I've seen my own prairie come and where I can see it going in the years to come.
Jack Kussmaul's prairie has been forever protected by a conservation easement. Jack's restoration adventures landed him on the Board of Directors of The Prairie Enthusiasts. He is one of the people protecting Wisconsin.