Historically, wildfires played a very important role in shaping prairies. Fire keeps forest plants from taking over and allows the soil to warm up quickly, making the prairie plants grow back faster. Prairies once covered two million acres of Wisconsin As Europeans settled in Wisconsin, they converted the treeless, fertile prairies into crop fields and controlled the sweep of wildfires. Today, less than 12,000 scattered acres exist. As grasslands are lost, so are the animals that live there. In order to protect and maintain the biodiversity of prairie ecosystems, special restoration techniques, such as prescribed or controlled burning (burning on purpose for specific reasons), can give grasslands a chance for rebirth.

Prairie
A field of coneflowers and natural prairie grasses
Prairies are made up of mostly grasses, sedges (grasslike plants), and other flowering plants called forbs (e.g. coneflowers, milkweed).
Read More
13-lined Ground Squirrel
Sometimes called "Federation Squirrels" because the pattern on their back looks like stars and stripes.
Read More
American Kestrel, Image Credit: Joe Riederer
This small falcon is sometimes called the "sparrow hawk."
Read More
Big Bluestem with blue sky
Imagine grass reaching as high as 12 feet.
Read More
Blazing Star in bloom
No, this is not something you'll find in the sky.
Read More
Bobolink
This colorful bird is well suited to life in the prairie. Its tan, black and white markings hide it well in the yellow-tan grasses.
Read More
Compass plant against a blue sky
Where did this plant get such a name?
Read More
Badger
If you live in Wisconsin, you may already be a badger—a badger football fan that is.
Read More
Eastern Meadowlark
Hark, it's the meadowlark, atop a fencepost, roadside pole, wire or shrub.
Read More
Indian Grass
This grass can grow taller than you, measuring 3 to 10 feet tall.
Read More
Indigo flower
Why would a beautiful white flowering prairie plant have a name that is a shade of blue?
Read More
Karner Blue Butterfly on leaf
Beauty and grace best describe this federally endangered species.
Read More
Little bluestem plant
Look for bluestem in the winter with fuzzy white seeds which small birds love to feed on.
Read More
Meadow Vole
Voles are easy to find by their "runways" that are lined with grass and other material from where they were digging.
Read More
Close up of Prairie Coneflower
This delicate yellow coneflower stands between 2 and 5 feet tall.
Read More
Prairie Dock plant
Not to be mistaken for the sunflower or the compass plant.
Read More
Prairie Ring-necked Snake
Can you guess where this snake gets its name?
Read More
Purple Coneflower
The purple coneflower is a beautiful summer/fall bloomer.
Read More
Sandhill Crane
What is that large stork-like bird flying over Wisconsin's marshes?
Read More
Prairie in Wisconsin
This Wisconsin prairie grass can be found in high prairies in southern Wisconsin to the north.
Read More
Yellow-faced Bee on flower
This ¼ inch bee is slender and looks somewhat like a wasp.
Read More
Upland Plover
Another name for this bird is upland sandpiper.
Read More