Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) is committed to helping landowners understand, appreciate, and manage their wetlands. This is important because, in Wisconsin, about 75% of the 5 million wetland acres that remain are privately owned. The stewardship of Wisconsin’s wetlands depends greatly on private landowners like Marilyn Houck who take the initiative to learn and work toward a healthier wetland landscape.

At Fancy Creek, channelization has resulted in a ditch corridor with flashy flows, erosion, non-point source pollution, and concerns about declining fish & wildlife habitat. Resulting floodplain disconnection has also disrupted flows to adjacent wetlands, reducing water storage functions.

The problems and solutions to situations like the one in Fancy Creek are complex and require more than any one landowner, organization, or agency can offer. This is why collaborating with partners is essential to expand the base of knowledge, grow interest, and obtain commitments to work toward restoration.

A group of people gathered in a loose circle among tall grasses or sedges at the top of the high banks along Fancy Creek's ditched portion.

WWA has led multiple field visits to Marilyn’s property to show partners the ditch, floodplain, and historic channel. Photo by Jennifer Western Hauser.

The thread of collaboration runs strong at Fancy Creek. Field visits that WWA facilitated early on helped share first-hand understanding of the degraded conditions and resulting problems at Fancy Creek. More important, the field visits allowed a diverse audience to envision benefits that could result from restoration work. Fancy Creek discussions now are led by the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, who is a vital partner in facilitating this project.

Fancy Creek is truly a community-led effort that began with Marilyn Houck and now extends to a wide array of town, municipal, and county government offices, state programs, federal agencies, conservation organizations, and even the Headwaters Program at the University of Wisconsin Madison and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin Platteville.

With all this exciting work happening only in the last year, WWA is eager to continue helping build the collaboration and encourage conversations around what lies next for Fancy Creek.

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Landowner Marilyn Houck steers her utility vehicle while pointing to something in the distance as her dogs ride in the seats around her.

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