Ruffed Grouse Society Magazine recently featured an article about the sustainable efforts University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Luke Whitburn ’98, has made on his 80-acre property in Upper Michigan.
The story about Whitburn,”Private Land Management Results in Woodcock Paradise,” written by wildlife biologist Meadow Kouffeld, appeared in the publication’s 2016 winter issue.
The sociology graduate, of Waunakee, started visiting and enjoying hiking, fishing and hosting campfires with friends on his fourth-generation land when he was in college at UW Oshkosh. After graduation, he became interested in working on the land.
Within the last 20 years, Whitburn has turned the dense forest that was once farmland into a more native and diverse ecosystem. He created a tw0-acre pond, prairie lands, bird habitats and had a one-mile driveway to his new family cabin.
He said he manages the land with “great care” to ensure optimal support of natural and diverse species and wildlife. Whitburn is excited to have native plants, such as blackberry and raspberry bushes, beginning to grow on his land. In reviewing trail cameras, he has noted species of black bear, deer, wolf and bobcat enjoying the acres, too.
In recent years, local Upper Michigan Boy Scout Troop 337 worked with Whitburn to plant 1,000 red pine tree seedlings on his land. The Boy Scouts walked away with a new badge for their hard work.
“These trees are now 15-feet tall and growing two feet a year. This project was part of my plan to re-establish diverse habitat throughout the 80 acres,” Whitburn explained.
In reflecting on the last 20 years, Whitburn said the most satisfying projects included constructing hiking trails and the engineering by a contractor to build his family cabin on top of a 35-foot granite rock overlooking the tree line.
“It has been a truly great place to unplug,” Whitburn says. “My daughter Kayla will be the fifth generation to be part of the land.”
In 2013, the UW Oshkosh Alumni Association honored Whitburn with an Outstanding Young Alumni Award for his entrepreneurial and professional achievements.