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Program encourages restoration of La Crosse bluffs

Kaitlyn Riley

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Volunteers at Home2 Suites by Hilton La Crosse helped with habitat restoration for our Love the Bluffs program in La Crosse last Friday.

A new program launched this summer looks to protect the bluffs of La Crosse.

“Love the Bluffs” was started by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy and funded by the La Crosse Community Foundation.

Sarah Bratnober, Mississippi Valley Conservancy communications director, said the initiative created awareness and encouraged care for the rolling backdrops of the area.

“They [the bluffs] protect our water,” Bratnober said. “They protect our air. The forests on the hillsides of the bluffs sequester carbon underground. There is just a lot of benefits to leaving the bluffs beautiful and wild the way they are, not to mention all of the recreational fun and beauty as well.”

Bratnober said the bluffs can be taken for granted.

“Sometimes, we see litter or graffiti or abused trails, and those things are probably just because people aren’t aware of how valuable those bluffs are and the things they are really doing for us,” she said.

Bratnober added that they always welcome individuals or businesses to join the effort by volunteering to help restore the native habitat, clear litter, or help with other activities.

Last week, volunteers with Home2 Suites by Hilton joined a Love the Bluffs effort. Employees spent their time cutting away at non-native plants.

“That’s what we have been doing a lot is focusing on restoring the native habitat up there that so much wildlife depends on, and that is what keeps the whole ecosystem up there functioning properly,” Bratnober said.

Bratnober says Love the Bluffs will continue through the end of this year.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in both radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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