Wehr Nature Center has some high quality examples of natural areas, along with many areas with very high potential for restoration. The center is situated in a part of Wisconsin where naturally occurring wildfires historically self-extinguished due to increased overall moisture (Figure 1).
As a result Wehr has a unique set of natural communities with some of them dependent on fire for maintenance and some of them infrequently dependent. The most marked example is savanna-like Oak Opening with open grown oak trees and small prairie-like areas adjacent to sections of Southern Dry-mesic Forest with Sugar Maples and Basswood trees.
Extensive planting was done in the woodlands through plant rescues from areas that were under threat of development, as a result there are many examples of rare plants, but there are also many rare plant species that survived many years of disturbance. Sedge meadow and related wetlands were very common before Whitnall Park was developed, and many areas are still intact and being restored.
Being next to the confluence of Mallard Creek and the Root River makes flood plain forest a very common natural community along the inlet and outlet of Mallard Lake. The lake is artificially created, but has existed for a long enough time to function similar to a naturally occurring lake. In addition to Wehr’s natural communities there is a planted prairie and savanna to mimic these community types that were not historically found at the nature center.
See the Presettlement Vegetation map.pdf for locations of historical natural communities. Pre-settlement Vegetation Map