In 2011, on the day before Thanksgiving, Glenn Smith, long-time Prairie Enthusiasts member and supporter, permanently protected his drumlin prairies with the sale of his 40 acres to The Prairie Enthusiasts. Funding was provided by grants from the USFW Service and the Dane County Conservation Fund. The Smith-Reiner family owned this land since the 1920s. The preserve was named in honor of Glenn’s mother, Phyllis Reiner Smith. Prior to The Prairie Enthusiasts’ involvement, the Dane County Environment Council recognized the family with a certificate of appreciation in 1984. Glenn recalls:
“As a boy, my grandmother would take us to the hills on the family farm to see the early spring Wind (Pasque) flowers and late summer Blazing Star (Liatris). We didn’t know about drumlins and thought prairies were elsewhere. We just knew that the drumlins on the farm were too rocky to plow.
Decades later I returned to the farm to give my mother Phyllis Reiner Smith a hand. A chance meeting with Rich Henderson who was representing The Prairie Enthusiasts at the Madison Garden Expo permitted me to inquire about ways to preserve and protect the prairie drumlins. I was surprised to find that he had been on our prairie and was very interested in getting involved.
Rich met many times with my mother and me, and alleviated her fears about removing trees. Over the next 10 years TPE volunteers cataloged plants, animals, birds and insects, removed trees and invasive species, and burned parts of the drumlins each year. A long term management plan was developed. Shirley Ellis, a volunteer who spent hundreds of hours working on the drumlins discovered the very rare Prairie Bush Clover, which enhanced the prairie’s value for preservation.
It finally became apparent that the drumlins needed permanent stewardship. The opportunity arose about five years ago for The Prairie Enthusiasts to purchase the property. It is now protected, designated as a State Natural Area and open to the public for all to enjoy.”