Project Information

Western Prairie Final Graphic Image with Black Background and Lighter Text Below ArchCapture the Western Prairie Club Project


Individual WWPC members often plan individual annual photo projects for inspiration and to learn or improve photography skills. New for 2016 is a WWPC Group Photo Project that we’re calling Capture the Western Prairie. The objective of this group project is to combine our talents to produce photographs that can be used to raise awareness and understanding of our local landscape, as well as showcase the artistic abilities of our members. As such, it is very much in the spirit of what is sometimes called “Conservation Photography”.



Backlit swamp milkweed flowers - Lori MoilanenOur club is located in a unique Wisconsin ecological landscape known as the Western Prairie. If we could turn back the clock 175 years, we’d see elk and bison roaming a mixed landscape of native grasslands, oak savannah, and hardwood forest. Today, the native landscape has largely been replaced by commercial crops and non-native grasslands. The elk and bison are long gone, and many prairie birds and plants are disappearing.

In 1999, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) established the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area (WHPRA). The WHPRA encompasses 350,00 acres across 15 townships in St. Croix and Polk Counties. The goal of the project is to protect 20,000 acres, or about 10 percent of the historic grassland acreage in this area. The primary objective is to restore viable grasslands and wetlands to provide waterfowl, pheasant, and grassland bird habitat. The intent is to protect widely scattered suitable habitat in a checkerboard pattern, combining working farms with prairie, savanna, and wetlands. Land protected by US Fish and Wildlife Service, private non-profit groups like The Prairie Enthusiasts, and individual landowners also contributes to the checkerboard of restored/protected habitat.

Club Project Overview

The goal of Capture the Western Prairie is to build a collection of publication quality prairie-related images for use by WHPRA staff and volunteers and WWPC in a variety of activities, including education, public awareness, WHPRA identity branding, and WWPC activities.

WHPRA biologist Missy Sparrow-Lien will be our DNR contact. We would like to identify a photography mentor for the project (to be identified).

We are planning a variety of activities to help WWPC members capture unique and beautiful images of the Western Prairie. These activities include photowalks on public, DNR restricted, and private prairie locations, and possibly some hands-on practice sessions to prepare for the photowalks.

Blue vervain flowers - Lori Moilanen

Work Products

Possible showcase opportunities for Capture the Western Prairie include photoessays, educational materials, and a gallery exhibit. At this time, we are planning a 2016 year-end slideshow and a September 2017 print exhibition at the Phipps.

Image Priorities

  • Four season scenic landscape photos of western prairie habitat
  • Dawn, dusk, and night images
  • Grassland bird and flower species
  • Pollinators on native plants
  • Stewardship activities (burning, prairie nursery, bird banding etc.)
  • Citizen science
  • Recreational use
  • Area shots
  • Historical images from local archives



Something for Everyone – More Ways to Contribute!

  • E-book graphic design
  • Slideshow production
  • Image selection
  • Location Scouting
  • Historical research
  • Grant writing

Project Manager – Lori Moilanen