Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Oak savannas in Milwaukee County

Indian Community School, Franklin, WI

Remnants of once-vast ecosystem linger on public and private properties

The big trees lean this way and that like preadolescents at a middle school dance who want to be seen together but aren’t quite ready to touch. The small stand—little over half a dozen oaks—is defined as much by the space around the trees as by the substantial bulk of their individual trunks. It is a classic example of an ecosystem known as oak savanna—or, I must hasten to add, what is left of one.

Stahl-Conrad Homestead, Hales Corners, WI
An undisturbed oak savanna is primarily grassland dotted with oaks. This remarkably diverse ecosystem once stretched in a wide belt from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, creating a transition between the tallgrass prairie to the west and the dense broadleaf forest to the east. Unfortunately, of the 50 million acres that existed prior to European settlement little remains, almost none of it undisturbed....

This story is published at Milwaukee Magazine. Click here to continue reading

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