This 99 acre site was acquired from the Losenegger family by the Prairie Enthusiasts in 2007, with an addition in 2012. It is being managed as a grassland. It is owned by the Prairie Enthusiasts and is managed by the Empire-Sauk Chapter. The site is within the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area.
The original 63 acre property consisted of 37 acres of treeless pasture, of which 30 acres was unplowed, 26 acres of active cropland, 5 acres of brush pasture, and 3 acres of planted walnut groves. The walnuts were thought to have been planted by a Civilian Conservation Corps crew in 1935. Because a major management goal was expansion of habitat for grassland birds, the brush and walnuts were removed in the winter of 2008-2009. The tree and shrub removal was funded by the Pheasant Stamp and Landowner Incentive Programs of the Wisconsin DNR, as well as funds from the Wildlife Conservation Society.
An additional 36 acres was added in 2012 making the whole site 99 acres.
Although much of the original treeless pasture was unplowed, past disturbance had been so severe that relatively little of the original native prairie vegetation remained. A survey at the time the property was acquired revealed 34 species of prairie plants. Erbe Grassland has potential as wildlife habitat at both the local and state levels. Because of its situation within the Military Ridge Prairie Heritage area, wildlife from nearby is expected to move into this site. Birds such as grasshopper and Henslow sparrows, dickcissels, bobolinks, and upland sandpipers nest nearby. Also, the state-endangered regal frtillary butterfly, which requires large amount of prairie sod, is also nearby.
The overriding management goal for Erbe Grassland is to recover and maintain as much of the site's original prairie ecosystem as is feasible. Additional goals are to provide habitat for grassland birds and other native animal species associated with treeless grassland ecosystems. In keeping with these goals, 8 acres of the former cropland has already been planted to prairie and is in its first growing season in 2009.
Rich Henderson, phone, email
Access & directions
The site is on Erbe Road in the Town of Blue Mounds in Dane County (see map below). There is a parking lot and kiosk on Ed Goplin's land, with a mowed trail that gets visitors up to the TPE property. Ed has granted access across his land, which we help him manage.
Map of site