Tom's Blog

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trip to Mazomanie Oak Barrens

Today Kathie and I joined a group of Natural Resources Foundation members on a trip to Mazomanie Oak Barrens State Natural Area. This trip, led by DNR Conservation Biologist Matt Zine, gave us an overview of what an oak sand barrens is like. The oaks here are mostly black oak (Quercus velutina), with an occasional white oak. This site is near the Lower Wisconsin Riverway and sits on top of a huge glacial sand deposit resulting from major flooding of Glacial Lake Wisconsin at the end of the last ice age.

We saw lots of great dry prairie/savanna species such as downy gentian, goat's rue, lead plant, silky and sky-blue asters, gray goldenrod, coreopsis, big and little bluestem, Indian grass, and three-awn grass (Aristida sp.) Also, the group here is surrounding a very nice patch of prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), one of the conservative prairie species that is a good indicator of excellent habitat.

Mazo Oak Barrens is a diamond in the rough, as it needs a lot of help. As a DNR-owned State Natural Area, its management falls under the aegis of the Wisconsin Bureau of Natural Resources staff. Unfortunately, the field staff is overburdened with too many sites to care for, so that some triage is necessary. The part of Mazo Oak Barrens where the photo was taken had not been burned for about 15 years. It is impressive that the site is in as good a shape as it is. This is probably because it is such a dry site, and is not favorable for the development of a lot of invasive species, although we did see occasional patches of buckthorn and honeysuckle. Fortunately, there were very few invasive weeds.

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1986 and dedicated to providing support for conservation work by the Wisconsin DNR. It is an organization that well deserves support of all citizens of Wisconsin.


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