At the edge of Frautschi Point Woods and the Biocore Prairie stands a ~200 year old white oak (called the “Second Oak”). A series of air photos starting in 1927 and progressing over time show the oak standing in an open field then gradually (slowly at first, then progressively more quickly) being engulfed by other trees. At first the trees that surrounded it were it’s progeny–other white oaks growing in sunny conditions and poised to one day replace their parent. The cessation of the farming practices that maintained the open field and mimicked the natural processes that once maintained Wisconsin’s prairies and savannas led to fast growing, shade tolerant trees to crowd the oaks and prevent any other oaks from getting established.
A project is being undertaken this winter to protect the large old oak and it’s younger cohort by removing select trees that are impacting their canopy growth and preventing further germination of oak. White oaks in this age-class exist nowhere else in the Preserve. This area was designated as an oak savanna transition zone in the 2006 Master Plan. Oak savanna, dominated by oak trees, once covered 7 million acres of Wisconsin; today less than 0.01% remains. The Lakeshore Nature Preserve governance committee has reviewed this project, and Preserve staff consulted with other land management professionals in developing plans. Future management actions will include continued removal of invasive shrubs, the use of prescribed fire, and planting and seeding.
You can learn more about the project by viewing a presentation by Preserve Field Project Coordinator, Adam Gundlach, White Oak Management at Frautschi Point.
Or read Second Oak Legacy of Change from the Fall 2019 Lakeshore Nature Preserve E-Newsletter.