Success Stories

The objective behind Sand County Foundation’s efforts is to learn from, encourage, and where appropriate, assist citizen-based conservation projects that incorporate multiple landowners, a commitment to ethics and incentives, monitoring, independent review, and a willingness to share the social, economic, and environmental outcomes with others.

Bradley Fund for the Environment

The Bradley Fund for the Environment was a partnership between Sand County Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. The fund fostered ethically sound and science-based projects as leading-edge solutions to major ecological issues.

Cooperative Sagebrush Initiative

A regional conservation partnership in the West where ranchers, environmentalists, energy producers, and public agencies are working toward voluntary, incentive-based, bottom-up restoration of the sagebrush steppe biome.

Leopold Memorial Reserve

Along the sandy banks of the Wisconsin River are 2,000 acres of private land, adjacent to Aldo Leopold's 'Shack' and family farm. It's an early success story of simple, low-cost, voluntary conservation. The demonstrated commitment of farmer neighbors to conserve their lands around Leopold's Shack led to Sand County Foundation’s private conservation leadership on working lands across the United States.

Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative

A community of people in north central Pennsylvania whose livelihoods, economy, and traditions merge around a mixed ownership forest on the Allegheny plateau.

Pay for Performance

Pay-for-Performance is a targeted approach to investing limited conservation program funding. Instead of paying for specific farm practices, it calculates farmer payments based on the net environmental improvement. Pay-for-Performance uses dollars to achieve specific environmental outcomes.

Baraboo River Restoration

Sand County Foundation helped make history in 2001. With critical funding from the Bradley Fund for the Environment, Sand County Foundation and public and private sector partners completed a six-year dam removal effort that resulted in the Baraboo River running unimpeded for the first time in 150 years.

Prioritizing Resources to Meet Water Quality Goals

Read our assessment of how to address the nation's agricultural water quality challenges.

Trinity River

More than 90 percent of Texas is privately owned and ranching is a predominant way of life. Sand County Foundation and partners investigated land management systems that can enhance livelihoods, build resilience against weather extremes, and help alleviate growing pressure on the state’s water resources.

Yahara Lakes Watershed

With partners, Sand County Foundation began Wisconsin’s first watershed-wide phosphorus pollution reduction project using the state’s innovative Adaptive Management Option. The AMO allows municipal governments to save money by preventing phosphorus pollution rather than treating water to remove phosphorus.

Oxbow Restoration

Sand County Foundation and multiple partners showed how restoring oxbows in an Iowa watershed could improve the environment while creating economic benefits for farmers.

Floodplain Rehabilitation

Inappropriate and unsafe dams impede how rivers and floodplains function. Sand County Foundation explored what can be done and provides an analysis of the 2008 Wisconsin River and Baraboo River floods.

Subsurface Bioreactors

In Iowa, where excess nitrogen draining from farmland threatens water quality, we’ve worked with partners to develop subsurface bioreactors that remove nitrogen from drainage water.

Constructed Wetland

Farmers often have low-lying land that produces crops poorly or at considerable expense. We have demonstrated and tested an alternative use for those areas. Constructed wetlands keep nutrients on the farm and out of waterways.

Gypsum for Phosphorus Runoff Reduction

We evaluated gypsum extracted from the exhaust of electric power plants and applied it to cropland as a way to reduce phosphorus draining into waterways after intense rainstorms.

Drainage Water Management

Installing drainage tile allows farmers to manage the seasonal draining of water from farmland. This provides insurance against drought, and reduces the amount of nitrogen entering waterways. Sand County Foundation is working with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to promote the installation of these structures.

Karner Blue Butterfly Restoration

Sand County Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service united to help private landowners improve habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly.

Creating Pollinator Habitat with the Energy Sector

Sand County Foundation has worked with rural electric cooperatives to increase habitat for insect pollinators on land otherwise used for energy infrastructure.