Living prairie named in honor of local environmental icon

The 17-acre prairie is the latest restoration project completed by the Baird Creek...
The 17-acre prairie is the latest restoration project completed by the Baird Creek Preservation Foundation.(WBAY)
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 2:48 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Baird Creek Preservation Foundation is set to unveil its latest restoration project Saturday, July 31, off County Road JJ in the Town of Eaton.

When it came to naming the living prairie and gazebo in the Baird Creek Watershed, one name topped the list.

“I started with the foundation five years ago, and everybody kept talking about Paul. Paul, Paul, Paul,” recalls Holly Baseman, Baird Creek Preservation Foundation executive director.

Paul as in Paul Hartman, who 24 years ago helped form the Baird Creek Preservation Foundation to save 34 acres of pristine old growth forest from development and turn it into the Baird Creek Greenway.

“There’s a lot of board members that have been on the board of the Baird Creek Preservation Foundation with Paul since the very beginning, and they just very much wanted to honor him in some way for all the work he’s done in Northeast Wisconsin,” says Baseman.

From his 30-year career as a horticulturist at the University of Wisconsin Extension to co-founding the Green Bay Botanical Garden, Hartman has been a pillar of environmental causes in the community.

The 17 acre prairie is a prime example of his passion.

“This property was initially restored in 2015 to prairie, and we’re continuing to do restoration efforts and we will do another large prairie planting next year to diversify what’s out here. That is just to create even more habitat and remove invasive species, so two of Paul’s loves, get rid of the bad, bring in the good,” says Baseman.

Hundreds of foundation members and volunteers are expected to attend Saturday’s grand opening to celebrate the Paul Hartman Living Prairie.

“Everyone just talks about Paul’s kindness, his humbleness and his care for nature, and so that’s what we tried to do with this project was get people outside in nature and yet make it very simple and just show people what Paul cared about,” says Baseman.

Today, the Baird Creek Preservation Foundation owns more than 100 acres open to the public and cares for more than 600 acres throughout the Baird Creek Greenway and Watershed.

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