Prairie Sands Chapter is located in the geological center of Wisconsin in the sandy soils of ancient glacial lakes. This region features some of the state’s premier examples of remnant dry prairies, pine barrens and oak savannas. Research and protection for the endangered Karner blue butterfly and the greater prairie chicken is centered in this region.
The Prairie Sands chapter covers Adams, Marquette, Juneau, Portage, Waushara, Waupaca, and Green Lake Counties in Wisconsin. We invite you to join us!
Prairie Tour, Picnic and Kayak the Mecan River
Members of the Prairie Sands Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts invite you to join them on Saturday, August 26 for a 10AM tour of Mecan Prairie in Waushara County and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy or kayak the Mecan River afterwards.
Mecan Prairie is the privately owned 230 acre property of Dr. John Shillinglaw located in the Mecan River Priority Watershed. This property contains 140 acres of restored prairie in previously farmed fields, 15 acres of oak savanna and seven separate types of wetland communities under active management including ephemeral wetlands, a sedge meadow, cattail marsh, pond and sedge community and a large bog. The restoration has successfully created habitat for the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly and many species of birds including 10 of the top 13 grassland bird species in Wisconsin. This year alone saw the rearing of a Sandhill Crane colt on the property as well as many Dickcissels, Field and Grasshopper Sparrows and Bobolinks. Although the flight of the Karner Blue Butterflies has ended for the year there are dozens of monarchs and a host of other butterflies and dragonflies on all the prairie units.
Of course, there will be lots of Wisconsin and Waushara County native plants to observe – yellow sunflowers and goldenrods, purple blazing stars and Ironweed as well as the occasional late blooming orange Butterfly Milkweed, the silvery blue blades of Little Bluestem, the tall golden inflorescence of Indian Grass and the “turkey foot” of Big Bluestem just beginning their bloom.
The prairie hike will start at 10AM and finish by noon at which time you are invited to stay and bring a picnic lunch to eat in the shade and, if you wish, John will tell you where to launch your kayak for a relaxing trip down nearby Mecan River.
Trails are mowed to access most areas and hiking boots are best although sturdy shoes are adequate. Sand prairies can be hot, so dress appropriately.
From the Hwy 39 exit at Coloma take Hwy 21 east to Cty Hwy B at Richford (5 miles) and turn right. Go about ½ mile through the town of Richford and turn left on Cty Hwy JJ for about 5 miles. There is a cemetery on the right. Make a sharp right turn which almost heads you back west. This is Czech Rd. (If you reach a T intersection with Cty Hwy Y outside Dakota, you have gone too far.) Go about 3/4 mile through a wooded area, past a prairie on your left and past a wetland on the left (right next to the road). After the wetland you will see a farm lane and mail box on the right (W9902 Czech Rd). We will be parking next to an alfalfa field which is on the opposite side of the road from the mail box. From Madison, Mecan Prairie is an hour and 15 minute drive from the junction of I39 and Hwy 151. From Stevens Point allow approximately 55 minutes.
Call leader contact: John Shillinglaw firstname.lastname@example.org or home: 608-298-7756, or cell: 920-213-8037 if you have any questions.
Seed collection opportunity
Lupine is overly abundant at the Hamel's prairie in NW Marquette County this year. If you are interested in collecting lupine seed for your restoration purposes, please contact David or Shelley Hamel (email@example.com). Sorry, but seed is only available to our chapter members. Seed will be ready within the next two-three weeks and we will email you as the opportune time approaches with directions to the location. Check out this video (link to video) of the impressive Lupine blooms!