Mississippi Valley Conservancy and local business team up to help restore La Crosse bluff

LA CROSSE, WIS. (WEAU)-- A local business volunteered with the Mississippi Valley Conservancy to help restore oak and prairie habitat at the Dobson Bluffland Friday morning.

Jamie Miller, a volunteer with Home 2 Suites, works to cut down buckthorn.

The conservancy has existed for more than 20 years and services nine counties. They work with private landowners as well as the community.

"We protect land for wildlife habitat and public access, like this beautiful park land that we are on today," said Sarah Bratnober, the communications director for Mississippi Valley Conservancy. "Then we also have outreach and education programs."

The conservancy is a non-profit that is completely member and donor funded. Friday, the project was focused on restoration.

"We're restoring prairie in this whole open area because prairie is an increasingly rare habitat in Wisconsin and in all of North America," Bratnober said.

Seven La Crosse Home 2 Suites employees were alongside volunteering, taking time away from their full-time jobs.

"Today we’re removing invasive buckthorn," said Jamie Miller, a volunteer with Home 2 Suites. "It’s kind of like a hedge, a bush plant, but it spreads very quickly so we are cutting it down, cutting it back and then also spraying it down with herbicides so that it doesn’t grow back."

Removing the buckthorn will give the newly planted prairie seeds a strong start.

The initiative Home 2 Suites volunteered with Friday is "Love the Bluffs", a program the conservancy recently started.

"The bluff lands are really one of the most unique features of La Crosse and when you think of La Crosse that’s what you think of," Bratnober said.

The La Crosse Community Foundation gave a grant to fund "Love the Bluffs." The program aims to help build a culture of caring for what many consider the city's most beloved landscapes.

Every year, Home 2 Suites chooses a non-profit to volunteer with.

"We’re really interested in this, this year, because we are very environmentally focused and then all of our employees are from this area, so the outdoor activities are just a very big thing," Miller said.

The conservancy has volunteer projects in the bluffs year round.