The Destruction of Lizard Mound County Park Woods

The below images will be rather self explanatory. Lizard Mound County Park Woods was a 28-acre remnant of the pre-settlement mesic and dry-mesic forest in Washington County, Wisconsin and consists of a high canopy of maple, basswood, beech, red oak, white oak, and Hill’s oak over a rich ground layer of wild leek, spring beauty, poke milkweed, maidenhair fern, both rough-seeded and black-seeded rice grass, partridgeberry, trilliums, various woodland sedges, and many other increasingly rare woodland plants. It is also unique in that it contains many striking burial mounds, which can be discerned in the aerial photography below. It was long ago identified as a natural area of local significance that was protected under the ownership of Washington County.

Unfortunately, the decision has been made to clear the forest over many of the mounds. This is drastically reduced, fragmented, and diminished the integrity of the remaining forest. It has also only served to make the mounds less visible at ground level. Before and in the remaining area that is still forested, they rose/rise above an open forest floor beneath a grand canopy. Now they barely rise above the tall growth of Canada thistle and other weeds that has followed the destruction. What a shame, both in terms of the ecological crime and lack understanding of the connection between the natural heritage and cultural heritage of the site–not to mention that the experience of viewing is diminished greatly by walking out in the blazing sun rather than the comfortable shade of an open and healthy forest where it is possible to forget about the surrounding altered landscape.


Pre-leaf-out 2005 image shows forest with numerous burial mounds visible as linear dark features.


The forest is still intact in 2011, but park “improvements” are being initiated.


Pre-leaf-out 2015 image shows that much of the northwest portion of the forest has been drastically thinned and opened up, and crushed-stone trails have been added.


Pre-leaf-out 2017 image shows continued clearing such that approximately a third of the forest has been destroyed or severely degraded.

About prairiebotanist
This entry was posted in biodiversity, Conservation, Conservation own-goals, Forests, native plants, Stewardship and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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