The Arboretum comprises 1,200 acres of remnant, restored, and buffer communities, including woodlands, savannas, prairies, wetlands, springs, and Lake Wingra shoreline. We also manage an additional 500+ acres of remnant natural areas throughout the state.

Land Management Goals and Challenges

Our overarching land management goal is to maintain, and, where feasible, increase native plant and animal diversity. We focus on preserving the integrity of our high-quality areas first. Then we restore adjacent lands to reduce pressure from invasive species and to create larger, more contiguous habitat.

Managing a natural area in an urban landscape presents many challenges including habitat fragmentation, invasive species, restrictions on use of prescribed fire, large influxes of nutrient- and sediment-laden stormwater, shading by woody species, and many others. Land care requires continual vigilance, and it is only through the efforts of experienced staff, dedicated volunteers, and our many partnerships that we can achieve our goals in light of these challenges.

Major 2016 land management accomplishments

  • Ongoing annual control of herbaceous pest plants such as garlic mustard, dame’s rocket, sweet clover, Canada thistle, and reed canary grass throughout Arboretum and outlying properties by hand pulling, cutting, and when necessary, herbicide application.
  • Curtis Prairie: ongoing reduction of willow, sumac, dogwood, and aspen clones through girdling, mowing, and herbicide treatments. ~8 acres cleared in 2016
  • Juniper Knoll-Teal Pond Wetlands-Pond 2 Stormwater Management Research Facility: continued managing invasive shrub species and reducing density of non–oak savanna tree species such as black walnut, eastern red cedar, green ash, box elder, and silver maple.
  • Juniper Knoll-Teal Pond Wetlands: burned 8 acres of restored and remnant prairie, oak savanna, and wetland in March. Had a pair of pileated woodpeckers nest in a cottonwood that was torched during the previous prescribed fire in April 2014.
  • Grady Tract: continued managing invasive shrub species, reducing density of various tree species, and removing pines, aspen, and silver maple as part of an 80-acre oak savanna and prairie restoration. This project is supported in part by a grant through the Dane County Partners for Recreation and Conservation (PARC) Program.
  • Grady Tract, Southeast Greene Prairie: more than 2,000 plants planted into wetland/wet prairie area by Arboretum staff, volunteers, and AmeriCorps
  • Grady Tract, Greene Thumb (northwest extension of Greene Prairie): burned 6.5 acres of restored prairie and oak savanna in November, and finished adding seed mix of ~60 species to the site after burning.
  • Wingra Oak Savanna: burned 5 acres of oak savanna and mesic prairie along Monroe Street over two days in November (first prescribed fire at that site since 2006). Also, spring and fall herbicide treatments of garlic mustard and dame’s rocket, and continued brush clearing.
  • Outlying properties, Pasqueflower Hill: burned the eastern 3.5 acres of remnant hill prairie at the outlying property on the west side of Madison in April (first prescribed fire at that site since 2004).
  • Outlying properties, Bolz Prairie: burned the eastern 4 acres of remnant hill prairie at the outlying property north of Middleton in April (first prescribed fire on that portion of the prairie since 2009).
  • Harvested seed from more than 70 native plant species throughout Arboretum properties.

Major 2017 land management priorities

  • Continue ongoing annual control of herbaceous pest plants such as garlic mustard, dame’s rocket, sweet clover, Canada thistle, and reed canary grass throughout Arboretum and outlying properties by hand pulling, cutting, and herbicide application.
  • Curtis Prairie: continue ongoing reduction of willow, sumac, dogwood, and aspen clones through girdling, mowing, and herbicide treatments.
  • Grady Tract: continue managing invasive shrub species, reducing density of various non-oak savanna tree species, and adding seed of prairie and oak savanna species. This project is supported in part by a grant through the Dane County Partners for Recreation and Conservation (PARC) Program.
  • Juniper Knoll-Teal Pond Wetlands-Pond 2 Stormwater Management Research Facility: continue managing invasive shrub species and reducing density of non–oak savanna tree species such as black walnut, Eastern red cedar, green ash, box elder, and silver maple throughout corridor. Introduce prescribed fire in the southern portion of Teal Pond Wetlands and the Pond 2 Stormwater Management Research Facility prairie planting.
  • Conduct prescribed fires at remnant and restored prairies, oak savannas, and wetlands.
  • Gardner Marsh and Teal Pond Wetlands: continue control of exotic and hybrid cattail invasion to aid in reestablishment of native sedge meadow. Explore possibility of winter prescribed fires to manage cattails and stimulate sedges.
  • Native seed harvest: increase number of species and amount harvested.