Troms named Mower County Outstanding Wildlife Conservationists; Udolpho Township couple boosts wildlife habitat along Cedar River

Published 8:14 am Friday, August 10, 2018

Mower Soil and Water Conservation District’s Board of Supervisors honored Ken and Gloria Trom of Udolpho Township as the 2018 Outstanding Wildlife Conservationist for Mower County. The award was given Tuesday night at the Mower County Fair’s opening ceremony.

After renting land to area farmers for more than 50 years, Ken was seeing the green of oats and more than two dozen other plant species starting to sprout from the earth. Last year, the Troms enrolled the last 96 acres of their cropland in Udolpho Township into the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to convert it back into prairie earlier this summer, providing a large area of new habitat for numerous types of animals, birds and insects.

“I always had a vision for this land,” Ken said of the land he bought in 1961 as part of 120 acres overall. He saw the benefits of prairie a few decades ago when about 60 acres was enrolled for a time in a state conservation program.

Email newsletter signup

Located northeast of the village of Lansing, the Troms’ property consists of 152 acres overall, including former crop and pasture land, their home property, and about 45 acres of woods along the Cedar River that attracts lots of wildlife.

Upon purchasing the initial 120 acres, Ken planted five rows of trees on about three acres of uphill farmland once a conservation contract for that land ran out. That area now boasts a thick strip of mature trees and bushes, including white pines towering more than 100 feet tall.

While he intended to farm his land, Ken said he always rented it to farmers. He was busy with agri-banking and, in 1967, the Troms also started a landscaping and tree nursery business at their home that ran until 2001. That business, he said, established many windbreaks in rural areas in Mower, Freeborn, Dodge and Steele Counties in Minnesota and Mitchell County in Iowa.

In the mid-1990s, the Troms planted prairie grasses on a former pasture outside their home. That section now attracts numerous monarch butterflies and other species. They also have about a dozen bluebird houses scattered on their property; the Troms counted about 35 baby bluebirds last year.

Ken worked several years ago with the Cedar River Watershed District to construct two stormwater-water retention ponds built along the Cedar River to stabilize deep ravines and treat runoff water.

A long-time member of the Austin chapter of the Izaak Walton League, Ken also has advocated at the state Legislature for agricultural conservation.