Oak Savanna Project

The Coon Valley Conservation Club has dedicated a few acres of the club grounds to be used as an oak savanna. In the 1800’s, Wisconsin was covered by more than 5,000,000 acres of oak savannas. Scientists believe that the oak savanna has existed in Wisconsin for the last 25 million years.

Part of the goal of the CVCC is to transform a part of the farm into what existed prior to the 1800’s.  Returning this land to its original state has been a labor-intensive endeavor. Invasive species have had to be removed such as: locust trees, buckthorn, garlic mustard, multi flora rose, and a few walnut trees. 

What is an Oak Savanna?

A population of fire resistant trees (usually oaks) having a canopy density of 10-50% and a prairie understory consisting of grasses, sedges, forbs and some woody shrubs.


There are very few oak savannas in Wisconsin these days. They are quite rare considering the invasive species that have come into Wisconsin in the last couple centuries.  

Richard Henderson Bureau of Research Department of Natural Resources: 

"Oak savanna now shares equal billing with the tallgrass prairie as the most threatened in the Midwest and the most threatened in the world. Intact examples of oak savanna vegetation are so rare that less than 500 acres are listed in the Natural Heritage Inventory as having a plant assemblage similar to the original oak savanna. This is less than 0.01 % of the original 5.5 million acres. "  

If you seek further information on oak savanna communities, please visit these sites:

Richard Henderson Bureau of Research Department of Natural Resources: 

USDA Site:   Exploring Options to Restore Wisconsin’s Oak Savanna - What is an oak savanna:www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/forestry/out/oak%20savanna.pdf



Why restore an Oak Savanna?

  • Oak Savannahs represent a “park like” setting, teaming with insects and wildlife.
  • Oak Savannahs once prominent now are very rare.  Historically, over 50,000,000 acres of Oak Savannahs existed in the Midwest.  Today, less that 0.01% of the acreage exists.
  • The driftless area offers the greatest opportunity to resurrect the Oak Savannah.
  • Educational opportunity.


Defined Area ~6 Acres



  • Controlled burns required every 1-3 years.



Action Plan

  • Contact WI DNR-Viroqua to conduct a plant survey on existing site and help devise a plan to diversify plant species on site.
  • Develop burn plan and determine what resources are available to the CVCC for conducting annual burns on site.
  • Complete removal of unwanted woody species found within site.



  • The Final removal of unwanted woody species in site was completed with the gun range improvements.