Efforts to manage and restore the plant communities in Oak Meadow Park first began in 2017. In 2020, the project was put into action on the ground in the park. This ongoing partnership between the City of Fitchburg, Jensen Ecology, and the residents of Capitol Heights and Oak Meadow has proven effective in reaching some of the goals of the project.
Desired Future Park Conditions: Oak Meadow Park hosts plant communities within the prairie-oak continuum, such as tallgrass prairie, oak savanna, and oak woodland to the extent possible withing the limitations associated with its size, surrounding land use, and available resources. Non-native species abundance is minimized to protect and encourage native flora and fauna. Visitors to the natural areas of the parks have safe, educational, and recreational opportunities that enhance their understanding of the cultural and natural history of the Oak Meadow Park lands.
Goal 1: Hosts plant communities within the prairie-oak continuum, emphasizing pollinator habitat
Goal 2: Multiple opportunities for education and recreation are available to visitors
Goal 3: View of the Wisconsin State Capitol is preserved
When the project began in 2017, most of Oak Meadow Park's vegetation was invasive and undesirable. As seen in the pictures above, it was dominated by non-native species such as common burdock, parsnip, crown vetch, garlic mustard, reed canary grass, buckthorn, honeysuckle, and more.
Key actions that have been taken and continue to be put in action to manage weed populations and work towards project goals:
mechanical and herbicide-based treatments to help control and contain herbaceous and woody weed populations
spot-mowing methods to facilitate growth of native perennial plants
planting of native plant plugs and shortgrass prairie seed mixes
Restoration efforts take time (several years at least!) to show real change; however, we are happy to report that progress is being made! Although invasive species are still abundant throughout the park, there are several successful areas that are now dominated by native prairie species. These areas will continue to develop over the years as additional slow-growing native species bloom and expand. Areas that have struggled more will continue to see mowing and herbicide treatment in hopes of eliminating new weed seedlings and giving native plants room to thrive. Shown below are some successes so far of the Oak Meadow Management Project: