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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Fair Meadows (No. 416)

Prairie white-fringed orchid

Photo by T. Meyer



Rock County. T4N-R13E, Sections 3, 4. 376 acres.



Fair Meadows features several natural communities including oak woodland/savanna, wet prairie, sedge meadow, shrub-carr, open marsh, and spring complex. Of note, is the presence of a federally threatened plant, which has increased greatly after management and was once abundant in moist prairies across the Midwest; however, it is now rare due to habitat loss. The oak woodland/savanna is dominated by white oak and shagbark hickory with black cherry and hackberry. A state-threatened bird and one plant have also been found here. Management of the woodland includes invasive species control, woody species removal, prescribed burning, and interseeding with native understory species to restore a declining natural community type. Uplands are surrounded by a large wetland basin that includes a number of small peaty areas with local marl deposits around several springs. Common plants include marsh marigold, skunk cabbage, great angelica, cut-leaved water parsnip, and northern willow-herb. Also present is sedge meadow dominated by tussock sedge and blue-joint grass with spotted Joe-pye-weed, boneset and shiny-leaved aster. Other wetland communities include shrub-carr dominated by red-osier dogwood and willow, and deep water marsh composed of very dense stands of emergent aquatics such as giant bur-reeds, hardstem bulrush, and sedges. Softstem bulrush, sweet flag, and blue flag iris are also locally abundant. More than 167 species of birds have been documented at the site. Wetland management includes invasive and woody species removal and prescribed burning. Mesic prairie is being restored in former agricultural fields and apple orchards. Fair Meadows is privately owned and was designated a State Natural Area in 2005.


Driving directions

The natural area is open to the public during field days and for educational tours.


Fair Meadows is owned by:

  • Private
Last revised: Thursday, September 17, 2020