Sunday, we were treated to a picture perfect, sunny autumn day as nearly 20 of us joined field trip leader Adam Gundlach in an Eagle Heights Woods hike to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of the ongoing restoration work being undertaken by the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. A wildlife ecologist, Adam is Field Project Coordinator for the Preserve staff, and has been involved from the inception of the project that has been funded by the Friends. This unique woods within the greater Preserve is tucked in between the village of Shorewood Hills and the University of Wisconsin graduate student Eagle Heights Apartments and is home to the highest point on the lake shore and some very prominent effigy mounds.
Winding along the various trails that ultimately led to the summit, Adam described the efforts to control invasive brush and trees with the ultimate goal of restoring the Eagle Heights Woods to an open canopy oak forest. Using controlled burns, as well as selective cutting methods, the Preserve staff is working in well planned phases to provide the opportunity for young oaks to eventually fill in the forest floor. At the same time, they are assiduously working to preserve the Native American cultural treasures located within this 28-acre gem.
Along the way, Adam shared his knowledge of the flora and fauna of the woods that he has become intimately involved with. Birding expert Roma Lenehan and UW Arboretum specialist Diane Dempsey offered their thoughts on the effects of the restoration program to add to the experience. Will the red-headed woodpecker make a resurgence to the preserve as a result of the Eagle Heights restoration? Stay tuned for the answer.
We were able to see both the before and after stages of the restoration project as it is still ongoing, and we were treated to magnificent clear views of Lake Mendota and the surrounding area, stirring visions of pre-settlement Madison and of bygone Indian culture.
Finally, while enjoying the perfect weather on Sunday, we are truly indebted to Adam for his flexibility to reschedule the field trip from that rainy and cold October 7. Peter Fisher was the host for the Friends and provided this report and photos.