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WOODLANDS & WOODLOTS

WHAT ARE WOODLANDS?

Oak woodlands are a forest community characterized mainly of White and Black oak trees found on dry soils.  They are often referred to as “woodlots”. 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Oak woodlands are identified by the presence of a large number of white and black oak trees, scattered black cherry, and shagbark hickory.  Frequent fire historically prevented the growth of fire-vulnerable specie such as maple and basswood, while the fire resistant species survived.  Brambles (black raspberry and blackberry bushes), grey dogwood, and American hazelnut frequently make up a dense, often impenetrable shrub layer.  Wild geranium, False Solomon seal, Rough-leaved sunflower, and wild grasses such as Woodland brome and Bottle-brush grass can be abundant.  Today the white and black oaks may be over-toppled by fast growing sugar maples and basswood, and the understory a mix of the shrubs mentioned above, plus Common and Glossy buckthorn, Honeysuckle, and Gooseberry.   

WHERE TO LOOK

Oak woodlands are found throughout southern and western Wisconsin, located on south- and west-facing slopes, and thin soils on hilltops and ridges.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WOODLANDS IN WI?

The surrogate name for this natural community – woodlot – says it all.  Early settlers in WI cleared oak woodlands to make room for agricultural operations and for timber products.  Those that were not cleared immediately were managed for firewood or lumber, and fire was not welcome.  Without fire, the maple and basswood grew unchecked, limiting the regeneration of shade-intolerant oak trees.  This continues today. 

CONSERVATION NEEDS

Birds:  Red-headed woodpecker, whip-poor-will, Wood thrush

Mammals: Woodland Vole, Eastern Red Bat

Reptiles and Amphibians: Bullsnake, Ornate box turtle

 

Plants: 

WHERE TO FIND HELP

HOW TO MANAGE

University of Minnesota Extension

Helpful information about managing oak and hickory forests from the University of Minnesota Extension

University of Minnesota Extension

A comprehensive look into oak cover type from the WI Department of Natural Resources Silviculture Handbook.

Forest Community Dynamics (with and without management) on Mesic and Dry-Mesics sites in Southern Wisconsin.

grass is good

For more information contact Cindy Becker, 

Southern Driftless Grasslands Coordinator, 

(608) 930-3252 or email at cindy@driftlessconservancy.org

Driftless Area Land Conservancy is an accredited non-profit land trust in Southwest Wisconsin. All images and text on this site are property of Driftless Area Land Conservancy and/or are being used with permission from the authors and photographers. Please do not share or distribute text, images or any site content without expressed, written permission.

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