In addition to our two cornerstone Sanctuaries, Goose Pond and Faville Grove, Madison Audubon owns and manages several other parcels of land in Columbia and Jefferson County.
Erstad Prairie & Otsego Marsh
Madison Audubon’s 60-acre Erstad Prairie is adjacent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 720-acre Waterfowl Production Area at Schoenberg Marsh. The parcel, three miles northeast of Goose Pond, contains two 18-acre wetlands and 42 acres of upland grassland. Schoenberg Marsh is one of the premier prairie wetlands in Wisconsin with nesting yellow-headed blackbirds and black terns. There is a Fish and Wildlife Service handicap accessible trail on Priem Road, and a Madison Audubon Society wildlife viewing blind past the end of Harvey Road. The entire parcel is open for fall hunting.
The 80-acre Otsego Marsh property, about 10 miles northeast of Goose Pond, consists of oak and hickory woodlands, a pine plantation, and a 32-acre wetland that provides habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including wood ducks and the state-threatened Blanding’s turtle. The woodlands provide habitat for a variety of wildflowers, including many species of ferns. Canoeing and kayaking are permitted at Otsego Marsh from May 1 - September 15.
Historically known as the Empire Prairie, these sites are part of a 5,800-acre Northern Empire Prairie Wetlands Important Bird Area that draw species of birds attracted to the shallow wetlands, sedge meadows, oak savannas, remnant and restored prairies, and deep-water marshes. Large spring and fall migrations of waterfowl, including tundra swans, make these sites a popular birding destination. Viewing birds at these properties is best from the main roads and driveways by using your car as a blind, taking care not to flush birds by walking down to water.
Visit Schoenberg Marsh as you follow the southern savanna portion of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail.
Visit the wheelchair accessible trail at Schoenberg Marsh on Priem Road.
Canoe or kayak the peaceful waters of Otsego Marsh, while looking for frogs, salamanders, and turtles.
Use the Madison Audubon viewing blind at the end of Harvey Road to observe migrating waterfowl like tundra swans.
Located less than one mile north of Faville Prairie, Snapper Prairie is a small 30 acre remnant of what was once a large 2,500 acre low prairie in the floodplain of the Crawfish River. Depending on rainfall and moisture conditions, the prairie may flood in spring and early summer due to poorly drained clay soils, but may later appear very dry by mid-summer. The prairie is dominated by big bluestem, little bluestem, and prairie dropseed grasses, and has many showy forbs including prairie blazing-star, coneflowers, compass-plant, sky-blue aster and a large population of prairie dock. Several plants indicative of alkaline conditions and more often found in fens, grow here - Riddell's goldenrod, nodding ladies-tresses orchid, valerian, and narrow-leaved loosestrife.
Rare plants include prairie milkweed and prairie Indian plantain. There are good populations of savanna sparrows and eastern meadowlarks present while bobolink and rare upland sandpipers have nested on the prairie in the past. Small mammals, including meadow voles, shrews, and white-footed mice, are abundant. Snapper Prairie was designated a State Natural Area in 1981.
Rare and showy prairie forbs such as prairie milkweed, ladies tresses orchid, and prairie milkweed
Upland sandpiper nesting habitat
Hope Lake Bog
Hope Lake Bog is a 35 acre botanical gem known to generations of Wisconsin conservationists. This small floating tamarack and sphagnum bog is a long, narrow 35-acre tract separated from the main part of Zeloski Marsh. Two wooded glacial moraines drop steeply toward a narrow wetland that runs most of the length of the property. Common plants include poison sumac, pitcher plants, cotton grass, leatherleaf, bog rosemary, bog birch, and cranberry. Due to the fragile nature of this ecosystem, Hope Lake Bog is being preserved as an undisturbed sanctuary. There is no public access to the Bog.
Banner photo: Black tern over Otsego Marsh. Photo by Arlene Koziol.