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Forestry Demonstration Sites Eagon Nature Education Preserve

PROPERTY OVERVIEW

The Burdette and Sarah Eagon Nature Education Preserve in the town of Alban, Portage County, is an education and restoration site owned by UW-Stevens Point. The property, which is managed by university students, has a mix of wetlands, uplands, grasslands, and shrublands as well as a class 1 trout stream, Flume Creek. It is also the original location of the Alban township. The site is home to a wide variety of native plants and animals, including oaks, white pines, song and game birds, and amphibians. However, invasive species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, prickly ash, poison ivy, and spotted knapweed are also abundant.

Fast Facts

  • Location: Town of Alban, Portage County
  • Size: 14.93 acres
  • Accessibility: Open to the public year-round
  • Focal Species: Woodcock, ruffed grouse, neotropical migrant birds
  • Management Goal: Provide habitat for woodcock and eliminate invasive species

Management Goals

  • Provide woodcock habitat
  • Nesting and foraging habitat for neotropical migrant birds
  • Improve drumming logs for ruffed grouse breeding
  • Improve the streambank to help with water quality
  • Remove invasive species

Focal Species

  • Woodcock
  • Neotropical migrant birds
  • Ruffed grouse
The primary focus of this site was to create woodcock habitat. Habitat components for other species such veery, yellow-throated warbler, yellow warbler, rose-breasted grosbeak, American redstart, pewee, and ruffed grouse were also included.

Special Considerations

  • Invasive species: Invasive species on the property need to be controlled for native species to flourish
  • Historical ruins: Ruins from the original Alban township, including an old mill dam, are present on the property and need to be preserved
  • Educational resource: This property serves as an education and training site for UW-Stevens Point forestry students
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Conditions Before Management

The property was originally comprised of three ecosystems: upland forest, shrubby grassland, and wetland. To explore each, click the drop-down menus at right.

Prior to management, the upland forest was a mix of shrubs, central hardwoods, and conifers intermixed with invasive shrubs and plants. Most of the trees were of the same age. As a result, they were of similar size and lacked the variation desired by the focal species for cover.

  • Shrubs: Staghorn sumac, brambles, and American hazelnut
  • Tree Species: Red oak, red maple, white pine, basswood, aspen, paper birch, box elder, tag alder, balsam fir
  • Invasive Species: European buckthorn, poison ivy, honeysuckle, prickly ash, and spotted knapweed

Before management, two sections of shrubby grassland existed: one along the powerline corridor and a second along Flume Creek Road. Both portions had a mix of native plants and legumes intermixed with non-native grasses. The powerline corridor also had extensive poison ivy and some shrubs.

  • Shrub species: Plum
  • Plant species: 
  • Invasive species: Non-native grasses, poison ivy

The wetland area running along Flume Creek was dominated by thick groves of mature tag alder. Within the alders were scattered overstory trees, patches of red osier dogwood, and invasive species.

  • Shrub Species: Tag alder, red osier dogwood
  • Tree Species: Black ash, quaking aspen, paper birch, white pine, black cherry, and swamp white oak
  • Invasive Species: Buckthorn, honeysuckle, and barberry

Management Implemented

To incorporate woodcock habitat while providing drumming logs for ruffed grouse and nesting/foraging habitat for neotropical migrant birds, management focused on increasing ecosystem diversity and vertical structure. To do this, four distinct cover types were created and management actions were incorporated to promote a variety of age classes now and in perpetuity. To explore how management practices were adapted in each ecosystem to incorporate habitat elements for focal species, click the drop-down menus below.

Drumming log left for ruffed grouse, with swamp white oak planted nearby and protected in a tree tube

Within the upland forest, management focused on creating winter cover, often referred to as thermal cover, as well as increasing foraging, nesting, and mating habitat.

Woodcock

  • Planted spruce to provide future patches of thermal cover as well as stop over locations during migration
  • Where present, retained patches of conifers such as spruce and hemlock for thermal cover

Neotropical Migrant Birds

  • Carried out a clearcut with reserves by removing all the box elder and keeping native tree species such as oak. After the harvest, native shrubs such as plum, swamp white oak, and hazelnut were tube planted to reduce deer damage and native sedges were seeded. The goal of these management actions were to:
      • Plum planting: provide fruit, often referred to as soft mast, forage for Yellow-throated warbler, yellow warbler, veery, redstart, rose-breasted grosbeak
      • Swamp white oak and hazelnut planting: provide nut, or hard mast, forage for yellow and yellow-throated warblers
      • Clearcut with reserves: create an open woodland environment with shrubs underneath to provide nesting habitat for veery, redstart, pewee
      • Sedge seeding around reserve shrubs: mature native shrubs were kept on the site and the surrounding area was seeded with a native sedge/grass mix to create the low shrub/sedgy habitat desired by yellow-throated and yellow warblers for nesting
      • Oak reserve trees: oaks were kept on the site and the surrounding area cleared of competing trees to encourage the horizontal branch growth desired by redstarts for nesting

Ruffed Grouse

  • Retained large diameter course woody debris (dead, down logs) to serve as drumming logs. Surrounding these logs, we also planted swamp white oak seedlings to provide cover from predators.
  • Planted spruce to provide future patches of thermal cover and retained conifer patches for thermal cover now

Invasive Species

  • Removed all box elder and planted native shrubs to inhibit the future growth of box elder. To reduce deer browse of the planted shrubs, they were tube planted. Planted species included plum and hazelnut

Powerline corridor

To create the brushy fields desired by woodcock for loafing, the shrubs along the powerline corridor were maintained while poison ivy was removed.

Grassland near parking area

Open grasslands play an important role as singing grounds for woodcock during their spring mating season. To create this habitat component, non-native shrubs were removed and the shrubby grassland along Flume Road was rotary seeded with native plants. Maintaining the site as a grassland will require periodic prescribed burns to reduce encroaching shrubs and stimulate plant growth.

 

Students planted shrubs for food for birds

Many of the site’s focal species rely on riparian areas for foraging, cover, and nesting, while the stream provides important trout habitat.

Woodcock
  • To create continuously available patches of young alder for forage and cover, 20% of the dense alder patch was sheared. This shearing will continue to occur every 5-6 years.
  • Wet riparian areas also provide the moist ground needed by woodcock for finding bugs in the soil.
Neotropical Migrant Birds
  • Yellow-throated and yellow warblers often nest and forage in young, dense patches of alder. To create this habitat, we initiated a 5-6 year rotation in which 20% of the alder is sheared during each rotation.
  • Planted fruit and nut bearing shrubs such as plum and swamp white oak for food for veery, redstart, and rose-breasted grosbeak migrant birds.
Trout
  • The Wisconsin DNR worked on channel restoration. In addition, they placed old Christmas trees along the banks of Flume Creek to assist with bank stabilization and to provide cover.

VISITING THE PROPERTY

The Eagon Preserve is open to the public for visitation year-round. Hunting, firearms, and camping are prohibited. A small grassy parking lot is available near the intersection of Flume Road, Sunset Lake Road, and County Road T. A walking trail through the demonstration area runs along the north side of Flume Road.

PROJECT PARTNERS

Thank you to the following for their support of this demonstration site: