Prairies are relatively treeless vegetated areas that once covered the Central Plains and portions of the Midwest. Although dominated by grasses, they contain many forbs or “wildflowers.” Prairie plants are deeply rooted and most can withstand drought conditions. Prairie vegetation is generally also fire-tolerant and many species actually depend upon fire to increase germination or reduce competition. Today almost all of the native prairies in North America have been obliterated due to conversion to agriculture, intensive grazing, or development.
Only one documented prairie remnant exists within Muskego: Luther Parker Cemetery. This pioneer cemetery still contains oak savanna and prairie vegetation from pre-European settlement. Muskego also has several prairie restorations (more correctly identified as “prairie plantings”) within the city. Engel Conservation Area, Bluhm Park, and Denoon Park have large areas of planted prairies.
Muskego's prairie plantings utilize seed purchased from native plant nurseries that is generally derived from southern Wisconsin sources. Seed from several species are hand collected at Luther Parker Cemetery. A high species diversity in our seed mixes allows for a broad spectrum of native plants to fill various niches providing better wildlife habitat and lessening the likelihood for invasive species to get a stronghold.
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Controlled or prescribed burns are recommended by the City of Muskego Conservation Plan to reduce the growth and spread of invasive non-native plant species. By reintroducing fire as an ecological process, native species are rejuvenated and ecological health is restored to prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. Trained and experienced personnel conduct prescribed burns on natural areas throughout Muskego.