Schluckebier Sand Prairie is one of the last surviving remnants of the 14,000 acre Sauk Prairie, a vast grassland that covered the area prior to settlement.
The small dry to dry-mesic prairie lies in the Otter Creek watershed and is situated on part of an old Wisconsin River terrace. The site is just southwest of the moraines that mark the southern extent of the Pleistocene glaciation, placing it within Wisconsin's Driftless Area.
The prairie supports a good diversity of native plants and insects including the federally-threatened prairie bush-clover (Lespedeza leptostachya) and the state-endangered red-tailed leafhopper (Aflexia rubranura). Other plants include little bluestem, June grass, Virginia dwarf dandelion, short green milkweed, bird's-foot violet, pasqueflower, prairie smoke, flowering spurge, spiderwort, and rough blazing-star.
Except for a few small patches on slopes and along the edges, it is believed that the entire site had been plowed as early as the 1850s. An area to the south was also grazed until 1969. Because of its sandy soil and rapid depletion of nutrients, the site was abandoned for cultivation purposes and native species that had disappeared were able to recolonize the prairie. Also present, perhaps due in part to human disturbance, are sand blows that provide microhabitats for specialists like false heather, a pioneer plant that helps stabilize the sand blows. Today, with a management regime of prescribed fire, brushing, and invasives control the condition of the prairie is improving.
Schluckebier (SCHLUCK-e-beer) is a German name meaning "drink a beer".
The site is owned by The Prairie Enthusiasts and was designated a State Natural Area in 2006.
Brandon Mann, (413) 427-4099, [email protected]