The forty-five acre Ellenboro Prairie, now called Eldred Prairie is located on a low ridge with a dry mesic quality and somewhat sandy soil. About two-thirds of the site has a southern aspect, and one-third a northern aspect.
Jaye Maxfield & Jesse Bennett, email, phone
Access & directions
This prairie is in Grant County, Wisconsin, Section 8, Ellenboro Township, about five miles east of Lancaster.
Originally called the Ellenboro Prairie, the Southwest Wisconsin chapter changed the name in February 2004 to the Gary Eldred Prairie Preserve to honor Gary's many contributions to prairie preservation.
The site was located by TPE SWC members in 1987 while doing a county-wide inventory. Several trips back to the site resulted in a list of over 55 species, including such rarities as cream gentian, wild quinine and tall nut rush. Several years later a trained botanist from the DNR visited the site to evaluate the quinine population. His comment was "there are probably 10,000 or more plants here!" A purely biased guess is that this may be Wisconsin's largest single population of this state-threatened species. Over the last 14 years several attempts to purchase the site have been made but not until 2000 was any interest shown in selling. Jaye Maxfield, a dedicated and persistent member of the SWC, was asked by the chapter to help with the project. Meetings were set up with the owners, Grantland Growers, and they expressed an interest in selling. After nearly a year's effort by Jaye, including paper work, phone calls, filling out forms, back tracking and resubmitting forms and agreements for the sale, closing finally took place on November 13, 2001!
Although portions of the site are high quality prairie, others are not. Much of the northern aspect is covered with briars and brush of many kinds. The west ridge has been claimed by a grove of black oak and I'm sure they won't leave of their own free will. Many Christmas trees are still on the site but will be removed by "cut your own" tree buyers. Fire has been a missing element for generations and will be reintroduced this spring. There is a small area that has been taken over by crown vetch and removing it will be a high priority also. We will be looking for funding from as many sources as possible to hire restoration work and will of course seek the ever-critical volunteers to help. This is the biggest project SWC has ever taken on, and we will need help for many years to come!