Biocore Prairie is one of the oldest and longest sustained efforts to engage in ecological restoration in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Since 1997, dedicated faculty, staff, and undergraduates from UW’s Biology Core Curriculum (Biocore) program have been working in this field to convert former pasture and cropland to the native tall-grass prairie vegetation that was once much more common here than it is today.
They have faced many challenges, and the work requires annual interventions to suppress the weedy vegetation left over from seedbeds that date back to when the land was used for agriculture. Returning fire to the prairie has been very important to this process.
This small demonstration garden dates to the early days of the Biocore Prairie restoration effort, and was lovingly hand-planted and tended to maximize the biodiversity of the native plants growing here. It is the creation of Curt Caslavka, who worked with Biocore until he retired from the university. Curt collected the seed, propagated the plants, repeatedly mowed the weeds, rototilled the research plots, and supervised summer care and research projects by students.