Arboretum Receives Grant Supporting Restoration of Historic Prairie

Faville Prairie (Photo: Dan Gjertson)

Faville Prairie (Photo: Dan Gjertson)

The UW–Madison Arboretum has received a $1,000 grant for a restoration project from the C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program through the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. The grant supports expansion of habitat restoration being done on the 87-acre Faville Prairie State Natural Area (SNA).

Faville Prairie, an outlying property north of Lake Mills in Jefferson County, is managed by the Arboretum. Acquired by UW–Madison with the help of Aldo Leopold in 1945, Faville Prairie SNA is thought to be the first publicly preserved prairie in the world. The prairie sustains more than 200 native prairie plant species, dozens of which are listed as state endangered, threatened, or special concern.

As with most prairies in southern Wisconsin, long-term management is critical to maintaining native plant and animal diversity. A major threat to the native plant diversity at Faville Prairie is the encroachment of invasive woody species such as buckthorn, dogwood, and quaking aspen. The UW–Madison Arboretum, in partnership with the Madison Audubon Society (manager of adjacent properties), has been slowly clearing invasive woody vegetation at a small scale for the last eight years. This grant award will be used to hire a contractor who will forestry mow several acres of woody invasive brush. Additional tasks will be completed post-mowing by Arboretum staff, volunteers, and partner organizations. These include additional woody vegetation removal using chainsaws and brush cutters; herbicide application of resprouts and new pest plants that germinate after canopy removal; seed collection and seeding (if necessary); and prescribed fire. This project will not only increase the native plant diversity at this important site, but also increase habitat for grassland birds, prairie invertebrates, and other wildlife.