Swamplovers Nature Preserve


Purchase of CID X-TREME Auger Drive and Bits for Tree and Shrub Planting - 2016

View a PDF File of this report.


Enhancing Oak Savanna Habitat for At-Risk Bird Populations at Swamplovers Nature Preserve - 2015

View a PDF file of this report.


Remnant Dry-Mesic Prairie Enhancement at Swamplovers Preserve - 2014

  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction Condition of remnant at beginning of project.
  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction Cleared (foreground) and overgrown (background).
  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction Cleared remnant at conclusion of project.

Statement of Need: Prairie grasslands provide ecosystem services such as carbon storage and air purification, and also support the growing industry of ecotourism. At present, remnant prairie occupies less than 0.01% of its original acreage in Dane County. There is an urgent need to protect and restore these remaining examples of Dane County’s natural heritage for future generations. Aerial photos from 1936 indicate that the project area was previously open and consisted of prairie interspersed with oak savanna. Since then, this prairie-savanna mosaic has been displaced by trees and invasive shrubs that are not indicative of its historical condition. In addition to degrading the ecological integrity of the remnant, this overgrowth has obscured wildlife viewing opportunities and views of landscape features (the project area is visible from the Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age Trail, which bisects the Swamplovers Preserve). Fortunately, the remnant is still in recoverable condition; scattered patches of 27 prairie plant species still occupy the remnant, along with populations of nine at-risk species of plants and animals. These at-risk species will directly benefit from this project, as will users of the Ice Age Trail.

Project Goals and Objectives: The objective of this project was to restore the physical structure of a remnant dry-mesic prairie to benefit existing populations of at-risk species and promote opportunities for public recreation at the Preserve for residents of Dane County.

Work Accomplished: A professional contractor was hired to cut and pile invasive shrubs and tree species not indicative of historical conditions from the prairie/oak savanna remnant. Native shrubs (principally American hazelnut) were retained as wildlife habitat structural elements. Elm trees > 6” dbh were frill girdled to create snags for red-headed woodpeckers and future dens for southern flying squirrels.

Outcomes and Impacts: 17 acres of remnant prairie were cleared of invasive shrubs and trees. Trail hikers have observed that the number of Wisconsin-Threatened red-headed woodpeckers utilizing the project area as habitat has already increased. Recruitment of additional at-risk species to the project area will be determined by on-going biological surveys at the Preserve. Funding assistance from a Capital Equipment Grant has helped to facilitate enhancement of a high-quality remnant prairie and will help promote public awareness of Dane County’s natural resources through the Foundation’s many outreach programs and events. The Swamplovers Foundation has a long-standing commitment toward fostering a sense of environmental stewardship and understanding of conservation issues, especially in youth groups, and has hosted field trips for more than 1,500 Dane County residents since 1987. This project will be featured in an upcoming volume of Conservation in Action, the Foundation’s annual newsletter; financial contributions from the Dane County Environmental Council will be acknowledged in the article. Restoration gains will be sustained with follow-up management (periodic prescribed burns beginning in spring 2015, invasive species suppression, and reestablishing prairie plants) supported by the Swamplovers Foundation.

Project Contact:

Lee Swanson,
Vice-President and Treasurer,
Swamplovers Foundation, Inc.
5057 County Road KP, Cross Plains, WI 53528
lee.swanson@crossplainsbank.com
(608) 798-2553

View a PDF file of this report.


Reintroducing Endangered Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid to the Swamplovers Nature Preserve - 2013

  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction A Platanthera plug has been dug out and wrapped in 20-mil visquene.
  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction Wrapped Platanthera plugs were placed within 15-L bins for transport.
  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction A transplanted Platanthera plug.
  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction A transplanted and marked Platanthera plug with its browsing exclosure.

Project Goal: The goal of this project was to transplant ten dormant Platanthera leucophaea (Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, EPFO) plants from Koshkonong Corners State Natural Area (located in Rock County) to the Swamplovers’ Nature Preserve (located in Dane County).

Project Implementation: The transplant project was carried out on 8 November 2013. Ten ½-yard diameter soil plugs containing EPFO perenniating buds were dug to a depth of nine inches at the donor site, wrapped in 20-mil visquene to prevent desiccation during transport, and placed within 15-L plastic transport bins. Less than 1% of the individuals of the source population were removed. Transplanting of these state-endangered plant materials was approved and permitted by the Wisconsin DNR prior to project implementation (permit #887, expires 31 January 2017). EPFO transplants were transported to the Swamplovers Preserve in open truck beds and planted among three different locations within the Swamplovers Preserve: Two locations within a high-quality and actively managed southern sedge meadow remnant, and into a low spot near a waterfowl production pond. Wire browsing exclosures were placed around transplants to discourage browsing by wildlife. Browsing exclosures were anchored in place with ½-inch stainless steel conduit woven through the exclosure wire. Transplants were tagged (with transplant number and date) and will be monitored by professional consultants from Integrated Restorations, LLC during subsequent growing seasons.

Project Impact: EPFO is listed as an endangered species in Wisconsin (and is also federally threatened). Records from the University of Wisconsin-Madison herbarium show that this species was locally abundant at several locations within central Dane County. At present, remaining populations are geographically isolated and indigenous EPFO populations are restricted to only two sites within Dane County. Mathematical models of population dynamics demonstrate that the only stable equilibrium point for an isolated population is extinction. Owing to financial assistance from the Dane County Environmental Council, the Swamplovers Foundation has come one step closer to successfully establishing a viable and self-reproducing satellite population of this rare and unique species at its nature preserve. Funding assistance from the Dane County Environmental Council will be acknowledged in an article within volume 4 of the annual Swamplovers Foundation Newsletter, scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Prepared By:

Craig A. Annen
Operations Manager
Integrated Restorations, LLC
annen00@aol.com
608-424-6997

View a PDF file of this report.


Invasive Buckthorn Removal Adjacent to the Ice Age Trail, Swamplovers Section - 2012

  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction Invasive shrub encroachment of the Swamplovers Section of the Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age Trail in 2011, prior to brush removal efforts (facing north).
  • Swamplovers Orchid Reintroduction In 2012, following buckthorn removal, trail access and safety were dramatically improved along this section of the Ice Age Trail (the same section of trail, facing south).

Project Goal:

  1. Enhance public access of the Ice Age Trail by removing invasive buckthorn within a 25-foot buffer of the trail tread.
  2. Curtail the spread of buckthorn to adjacent segments of the Ice Age Trail system.

Project Implementation: Contractors and Ice Age Trail Alliance interns cleared dense stands of mature buckthorn rooted within 25 feet of the Swamplovers section of the Ice Age Trail, following recommendations specified in the IATA Trail Stewardship Notebook. Buckthorn was cut with a clearing saw and freshly cut stumps were treated with a 50% (a.i.) solution of triclopyr herbicide and marking dye. Slash was piled away from the trail and burned. The impacted section of the trail was posted for the duration of the Restricted Entry Interval for the herbicide applied (48 hours for triclopyr).

Project Impact: The primary project goal of clearing the Ice Age Trail of invasive buckthorn was accomplished with the assistance of funding from the Dane County Environmental Council Community Partners Grant. Buckthorn removal has affected a three-fold positive impact on this section of the trail: 1) the trail is safer and more accessible to hikers, 2) viewing opportunities for wildlife, geological features, and scenic vistas have been improved, and 3) populations of four plant species of conservation concern (Casey’s ladies tresses, cream gentian, giant yellow hyssop, and yellow lady slipper orchid) are no longer being encroached upon by buckthorn. The Swamplovers Foundation, Inc. plans to annually continue invasive species suppression along this segment of the Ice Age Trail.

Prepared By:

Craig A. Annen
Operations Manager
Integrated Restorations, LLC
annen00@aol.com
608-424-6997

View a PDF file of this report.