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Havenwoods State Forest Nature

The natural environment and land of Havenwoods has a unique history. Almost every square foot of the property has been plowed, built on, filled in or paved. A casual hike today will reveal a few clues to this past. There is still much work to be done, but Havenwoods is already a natural oasis for plants, animals and people.

Woods

Before European settlement, Havenwoods was a lowland forest filled with maple, oak, ash, basswood, hickory, beech and elm trees. Settlers cleared and drained the land. For the next 120 years, Havenwoods was not a woods at all. Beginning in the mid-1970s, nature began reclaiming the land. Seeds from surrounding trees sprouted and grew. Help came in the form of schoolchildren, volunteers and work crews armed with shovels and seedlings. As a result, thousands of trees and shrubs flourish in the wooded parts of the property.

Wetlands

Wetland areas are valuable to animals and people. Walk to the end of the boardwalk in the wetland and sit down. You will be surrounded by cattails, rushes and other pond vegetation. Sit quietly and watch the birds raise families, hunt for insects and defend their territories around the pond. Sit very still to catch a glimpse of the muskrats or minks. Peer into the water and look for diving beetles, back swimmers and water fleas.

Wetland areas are not just homes for plants and animals, they are wonderful places for people to explore and relax. Three of the ponds at Havenwoods are part of a flood control area that helps to relieve flooding along Lincoln Creek.

Grasslands

Urban grasslands are rare. Most parks in the city are woods, mowed picnic areas or playing fields. That leaves grassland birds like meadowlarks with limited places to call home.

Kids at HavenwoodsGrasslands also provide habitat for mammals, insects and reptiles—including the threatened Butler’s garter snake, which is found at Havenwoods. Visit from mid-July through August to catch the flowers at the peak of their blooms.

Gardens

The gardens at Havenwoods State Forest feature Kids’ Gardens, the Naturalist’s Backyard and five Heritage Gardens. Havenwoods has partnered with the Milwaukee County, University of Wisconsin – Extension (UWEX), the UWEX Southeast Wisconsin Master Gardener Volunteers and the UWEX Master Composters in the development and care of these areas. Visit the butterfly garden, rain gardens and urban arboretum to enjoy the native wildflowers and trees.

Nature preserve

This state forest is a nature preserve. All animals and plants are protected. Take care not to destroy or remove vegetation. No person may take, catch, kill, hunt, trap or pursue any wild animal at Havenwoods.

Last revised: Friday October 17 2014