Why You Should Visit
The Newell and Ann Meyer Nature Preserve encompasses oak savanna and woodlands, wetlands and former agricultural land near Eagle, Wisconsin.
It is where sandhill cranes raucously call from the wetlands in spring, where turkey vultures silently circle over the edge of the oak woods, where a red fox pounces on unsuspecting prey hidden beneath the snow.
A major portion of the headwaters of the Mukwonago River, the most pristine small river system in southeast Wisconsin, rises from springs on the property. The river is home to 59 species of fish, including five that are threatened or endangered, and 14 species of mussels.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
In 2006, Newell and Ann Meyer donated 374 acres of land to The Nature Conservancy through their estate. The Meyers’ dream was to create a nature sanctuary, an oasis of quiet beauty amidst the hustle and bustle of southeast Wisconsin.
Lifelong Milwaukee residents, the Meyers bought the first 80 acres in 1976 as a summer retreat. In Eagle, they were artists — Newell a sculptor and Ann a painter — and spent time at the property pursuing their art and enjoying wildlife. Theirs is the largest gift of land and assets ever made in Wisconsin for conservation.
The Newell and Ann Meyer Nature Preserve is located within the Mukwonago River Watershed project area. The Conservancy has an office and staff in the East Troy area, and we are working cooperatively with many different public and private partners to accomplish the following:
- Protect the water quality of and natural areas within the Mukwonago River Watershed.
- Manage our preserves to maintain rare natural communities and provide habitat for fish, mussels, amphibians and reptiles.
- Work with individuals and organizations concerned with the health of the watershed to help balance watershed protection with human needs and economic health.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The Meyers’ generous gift of land and other financial assets allowed the Conservancy to establish the nature preserve, open it to the public in 2009 and begin restoration efforts. It has also given the Conservancy the opportunity to expand its project boundary and begin to think about connections between the state forest, Conservancy preserves and other protected areas.
Prior to the Meyers’ acquisition of the land, about two-thirds of it was in agricultural production. In the coming years, the Conservancy will restore about 200 acres to native prairie.
Prairies and other grasslands are invaluable in the protection of bird species that nest only in these wide open, grassy landscapes. They include bobolinks, which arrive at the preserve each year after a migration of some 5,000 miles from South America.
Forty-two acres of oak woods on the property will be enhanced by the removal of invasive plants including buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard. We’ll also improve the health of the wetlands at the preserve by removing purple loosestrife, phragmites and other wetland invaders.
In the coming years, visitors to the preserve will be able to see — and assist with — this remarkable transformation as the Conservancy and its dedicated volunteers help ‘put nature back together.’