Treasures of Oz

Celebrating the Natural Gems of Ozaukee County


Restoring a Native Wetland

Ben Arnold - Mequon, WI

I bought my 20-acre property in December 1978. At that time, it was a plowed-up farm field. There were no buildings, no trees except for a few on the south property line, and no ponds. There was nothing to support wildlife. Since then, I built my house, dug three ponds, planted hundreds of trees of wide varieties, and seeded prairie restorations all over the property. Part of the restoration process was to remove the agricultural drainage tile system to restore wetland areas and support the ponds with groundwater.

newly hatched sandhill cranes
Sandhill Crane Fledglings
backyard view in july of wildflower prairie
Native Wildflower Prairie

With all that I've done, I have a very wide variety of native pollinators. It's not just pollinators that I was concerned with providing habitat but also songbirds, birds of prey, reptiles, and mammals. I have it all here. I provide and monitors weekly in nesting season 43 nesting boxes for bluebirds, tree swallows, chickadees, and wrens. Fledgling bird numbers are reported into the Bluebird Restoration Association Of Wisconsin. Also, there are six wood duck boxes, a kestrel box, and several up for grabs for squirrels or owls. I also keep track of the nesting locations of painted turtles and snappers. Protection is needed to prevent predation by raccoons or opossums. The prairie areas are in a rotation of different parts being burned yearly. This is necessary to keep the prairie areas in the best condition.

I am concerned about what will happen to this ecological system when I can no longer care for it. My work on the property is very time-consuming keeping all these things in order. I can't imagine someone else willing to put as much work and attention into it as is needed. It would be such a big loss to all the creatures that call these acres home to be gone with development. I have inquired with the local land trust about putting a conservation easement on the property, but they seem interested in something other than a mire small 20-acre property.

sunrise over the water

Creating a Work of Art

75% of Wisconsin's wetlands are in private hands, giving landowners a vital role in caring for wetlands. Wisconsin landowners choose to restore and care for their wetlands for reasons as varied as the land itself. Whatever their reasons, landowners who care for their wetlands attract wildlife, and benefit their land and water.

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