Warhawks flock to the prairie

Sustainability Council hosts environmental events


Ky McCombe

Sustainability Director Wesley Enterline flips through a binder of Wisconsin vegetation wildlife and talks about which flowers will be sprouting on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus this summer, Thursday, April 15.

Nichole Learman, Journalist

With over five miles of trails through a variety of ecosystems, taking a stroll through the UW-W Nature Preserve is a popular activity as the weather warms up in Whitewater. 

On Thursday April 15, the UW-W Sustainability Council held a prairie tour to get folks out in nature and bring awareness to why the UW-W Nature Preserve is something all people should visit.

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Sustainability Director Wesley Enterline explains the importance of burning the dry vegetation on the Whitewater Nature Preserve land, Thursday, April 15. (Kylie McCombe)

The nature preserve contains 128 acres of a variety of ecosystems such as woodlands, wetlands and prairie. A quarter of this land is under protective status. The signage for the trails have been redeveloped and improved to make navigating through the trails easier than before.

In a couple of months we will have a new sign up in the kiosk, we’ll have a temporary one in the next couple of weeks, and on it will show the entire trail system for Friar Woods and the prairie. You will have colored trails with the indication of how many miles they are and then basically you walk and you just follow the arrows,” said Sustainability Council member Ashley Roscoe.

Senior Ashley Roscoe, a member of the Sustainability Council on campus, discusses the upcycled signs that are scattered around Whitewater’s nature preserve, Thursday, April 15. (Kylie McCombe)

On the tour, there was not much plant life on the trails due to the area having a recent burn. Most people would view the burning of the prairie as a bad thing, however the burning actually helps the prairie by getting rid of any woody and invasive species in the ecosystem and the burning process only happens every four years.

“We’ll burn out here to suppress the shrubs and trees, reduce the thick thatch or dead materials which allows the plants to have a better chance growing up. It helps the early flowering species especially. Most of the plants are adaptive to fire and can re sprout very easily,” said Office of Sustainability coordinator Wesley Enterline.

Director of Sustainability Wesley Enterline and Ashley Roscoe point to a Wisconsin map detailing the various ecoregions throughout the state and which areas of the ecosystems are generally similar types, quality, and quantity of natural resources, Thursday, April 15. (Kylie McCombe)

Summer is prime time for the Nature Preserve. With the combination of warm weather and all the different flowering species, including plants such as compass plants and leadplants, a hike in the Nature Preserve is the perfect way to get some fresh air in for the day. In fact, the second week of July is peak for the prairie.

The Sustainability Council here at UW-Whitewater is always welcoming new members into their program. They strive to make the university a more environmentally sustainable place and want to encourage and educate students on how to do so.

Director of Sustainability Wesley Enterline and Ashley Roscoe guide attendees through a Prairie Walk in the Whitewater Nature Preserve on campus, Thursday, April 15. (Kylie McCombe)

The Sustainability Council has two more events coming up to end the month of April including an Upham Greenhouse volunteer opportunity for students on April 20 and April 27 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and their Arbor Day tree planting event at the Little Red Schoolhouse on April 30 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

The Sustainability Council plans to hold more tours of the prairie during the summer when the plants are flourishing. To keep up with upcoming tours and more events follow their Facebook page @uwwsustainability and follow their new Tik Tok page @uwwsustainability for information on upcoming events plus fun and educational videos about our environment.