Brice Prairie Conservation Association

Preserving Lake Onalaska and the Black River Bottoms

Prairie and Oak-Savanna Habitat Restoration: 2015 Burn

BPCA members noticed small numbers of big bluestem and other typical prairie plants in what is believed to be an unplowed prairie remnant, just northwest of the clubhouse. The area was being overgrown with shrubs and trees (some invasive) which were outcompeting the prairie plants. Brush was mechanically removed from part of the area. A prescribed burn plan for 2015 was submitted to the Holmen Area Fire Department and this first burn was accomplished in a small area on May 4, 2015. An adjacent small plot was treated with herbicide for re-growth comparison.

A number of fire-resistant bur oak are already present on the site. Brice Prairie likely contained large areas of oak savanna habitat, maintained by natural and Native American fires. There is evidence of extensive Native American agriculture on Brice Prairie, with cleared areas almost certainly maintained by fire. Agriculture, housing, and industrial development have removed almost all of the original prairie and oak savanna habitat. While some planted prairie reconstructions are present around Brice Prairie, it is hoped that the original plant communities of this site, which may have local adaptations, can be encouraged to thrive from root stock and seed banks likely present on the site.

2015 burn
Fritz Funk and Marc Schultz ignite the prescribed burn