The City of Muskego owns and manages 28 conservation sites covering 581 acres of land. Conservation sites range in size from the 153-acre Engel Conservation Area to sites under an acre. Some are stand-alone sites but many are portions of woodlands, wetlands, or prairie habitat that are within Muskego’s city parks. In addition to city conservation areas, Waukesha County has over 100 acres within Muskego Park and the Wisconsin DNR’s Big Muskego Lake State Wildlife Area collectively covers approximately 1000 acres.
Muskego’s conservation sites provide wildlife habitat, help manage storm water, and allow the re-charge of groundwater. They buffer developed areas of the city, reducing the overall development density and aleving traffic congestion. Natural green spaces provide scenic beauty and many studies correlate green spaces with lower stress and better overall human health.
Conservation Management Efforts
Conservation management efforts strive to maintain diverse native plant communities. Healthy plant communities improve the function of ecosystems by creating food and habitat for a wide array of wildlife and other organisms. Unfortunately, we cannot just “let nature take its course” in the management of conservation areas. Many native plant species have been lost from our landscape due to agriculture, land development, and the competitive effects of nonnative invasive species. It therefore takes efforts to reverse these changes - removing invasive plants and restoring native plants to the landscape.
Invasive Species Management
Invasive plants are plants that establish in a new land area because they were either intentionally or accidentally introduced. These alien species can proliferate and outcompete native vegetation because the invaded area lacks the natural controls that kept them in check in their native lands. While it is usually impossible to eliminate an invasive species once established, management efforts focus on reducing their abundance so that native plants can again flourish.
Staff, contractors, and volunteers use commonly accepted practices: physical removal, herbicides, and controlled burning to combat invasive plants. For more detailed information on invasive plants and their control, visit the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin.
Native Plant Re-establishment
Impacts of prior land use have left many areas with fewer plant species than they historically contained. Reintroducing native plants and increasing plant diversity helps to restore the health of ecosystems by providing food and habitat upon which native wildlife depend. The City of Muskego has established over 200 acres of prairie and wetland plantings utilizing a diversity of plant seed from native, local (southern Wisconsin) origin. Woodland areas have also been improved through removal of invasive plants and planting of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers.
The City of Muskego Parks and Conservation Plan 2017-2021 outlines the City's natural resources and prioritizes lands of environmental significance to be considered for preservation and provides strategies for preserving them. Read more...