, Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area, Wisconsin
Barneveld Prairie , Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area, Wisconsin © Clint Farlinger

Places We Protect

Barneveld Prairie

Wisconsin

This is a great place to see a remnant of the vast prairies that once covered southern Wisconsin.

Why You Should Visit

This is a great place to see a remnant of the vast tallgrass prairies and savannas that once covered most of southern Wisconsin. Surrounded by an agricultural landscape, the hilltops and valleys at Barneveld Prairie provide habitat for colorful butterflies and uncommon birds that thrive in large, open, treeless landscapes.

Location

Southwest Wisconsin: near Barneveld in Iowa County - about 30 miles from Madison

Conditions

The primitive, unmarked trail traverses steep terrain. 

WHY THE CONSERVANCY SELECTED THIS SITE

Once common throughout southern Wisconsin, prairies are very rare today. The Conservancy is working to conserve and restore some of the few remaining remnants.

The Conservancy purchased its first 79 acres at Barneveld Prairie in 1997 from Harold Thomas. In October 2002, the Conservancy bought an additional 892 acres at Barneveld Prairie from Dr. Richard and Margaret Botham. Located in the Town of Brigham, the property contains a diverse mix of prairie remnants, prairie pastures*, CRP lands, oak savanna, alfalfa fields, wetlands, row crop fields, and wooded draws. It provides important habitat for grassland birds like meadowlarks, bobolinks, vesper and grasshopper sparrows, dickcissels, and upland sandpipers, whose populations are declining worldwide. Loss of suitable habitat and the fragmentation of surviving grasslands are two of the major reasons for these declines. This parcel of land has been named the Muehllehner Addition to Barneveld Prairie in honor of Ursula and Gerd Muehllehner who made a generous donation to cover almost half of the acquisition cost.

WHAT THE CONSERVANCY HAS DONE/IS DOING

Like much of the remaining prairie remnants, the absence of fire at Barneveld has allowed non-native plants and native shrubs to overtake native grasses and flowers. Conservancy volunteers are helping restore the prairie by:

  • removing buckthorn, honeysuckle, prickly ash, and other invading trees and shrubs
  • mending and removing old fences
  • collecting the seeds of native wildflowers for use in future prairie plantings.

* Two of these pastures are still being actively grazed. For your own safety please do not scale fences or open gates, and stay out of pastures that are currently being grazed.

The Conservancy owns and manages 1,193 acres at Barneveld Prairie Preserve and has assisted partners in protecting an additional 190 acres.

What to See: Plants

Several rare plants: woolly milkweed, Hill's thistle, prairie bush clover, Indian plantain

Others: prairie dropseed, shooting stars, violets

What to See: Birds

Uncommon birds that need large, open, treeless landscapes to thrive do well here. The upland sandpiper and bobolink are two examples.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

For more information about visiting the preserve, please follow the links below:

Good hiking shoes are an absolute must.

Dogs are allowed on the preserve but must be on leash from April 1 to July 31 to protect ground-nesting birds. When dogs are off-leash, they must be kept under voice control by their owners at all times to prevent them from creating a nuisance on adjacent properties and residences.