Wetlands of Pleasant Valley Conservancy

Although wetlands are not common in the Driftless Region of southwestern Wisconsin, the wetland at Pleasant Valley Conservancy is relatively large. Over 140 acres are present in the immediate vicinity, but the whole wetland is considerably larger.

Only 35 acres of this wetland is actually part of the Pleasant Valley Conservancy property, but the whole 140 acres, in five ownerships, can be treated as a unit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has conducted major prescribed burns on this whole wetland in 2005 and 2010, and all owners have signed 10-year access/permission agreements. On 24 April 2013 this wetland was burned under auspices of the Savanna Oak Foundation, Inc.

Pleasant Valley Creek, a spring-fed watercourse, runs through Pleasant Valley Conservancy. However, most of the water to the wetland is supplied by the numerous springs which rise throughout the wetland. The acquifer here is the Wonewoc Formation, which is fed by drainage from the south-facing slope to the east, with its extensive tallgrass prairies and savannas, via the Tunnel City Sandstone. See geology.

The wetland contains substantial amounts of sedge meadow and cattail. Muskrat houses are common, and beaver come and go. Sandhill cranes nest on the wetland every year. Red-winged blackbirds, belted kingfishers, great blue herons, and other wetland birds are seen or heard.

The wetland is in the drainage system of East Blue Mounds Creek, a trout stream that eventually drains into Black Earth Creek, which feeds into the Wisconsin River. East Blue Mounds Creek is formed by the joining of Elver Creek and Ryan Creek less than a mile upstream. Bohn Creek is also in the drainage basin. Elver Creek has been one of the projects of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.

View of the wetland from the top of the ridge. Early June. The habitat is riddled with springs.
View of part of the wetland trail showing the boardwalk. The trail runs the whole length of the Conservancy parallel to the town road. The boardwalk, built by volunteers, makes it possible to get into the wetland without getting wet feet. Excellent for bird watching.
The 2013 wetland burn went very well. The principle fuels were sedge meadows and cattails.
View after the 2013 wetland burn from the overlook at the top of Pleasant Valley Conservancy. The Conservancy ownership is the part near the bottom of the photo.


Some of the principal plant species are shown in the photo gallery below. The species check list gives a detailed look at the diversity.


Photo Gallery of Wetland Plants at Pleasant Valley Conservancy


Wetland Species Check List

The following table is a checklist of wetland species found during annual surveys. The sedge (Carex) list was developed in 2007 by Josh Sulman.


Latin name
Common name
Agrostis sp
Bent grass
Allium canadense
Wild onion
Anemone canadensis
Meadow anemone
Anaphalis margaritacea
Pearly everlasting
Angelica atropurpurea
Great angelica
Anemone canadensis
Meadow anemone
Arnoglossum atriplicifolia
Pale Indian plantain
Asclepias exaltata
Poke milkweed
Asclepias incarnata
Swamp milkweed
Asclepias syriaca
Common milkweed
Aster firmis
Shining aster
Aster lanceolatus
Panicled aster
Aster novae-angliae
New England aster
Aster prenanthoides
Crooked aster
Aster puniceus
Swamp aster (red-stemmed)
Aster umbellatus
Flat-top aster
Bidens cernuus
Nodding beggar's tick
Brassica sp
Bromus ciliatus
Fringed brome (wetland)
Calamagrostis canadensis
Blue-joint grass
Caltha palustris
Marsh marigold
Campanula aparinoides
Marsh bellflower
Carex bebbii
Bebb's oval sedge
Carex hystericina
Porcupine sedge
Carex granularis
Limestone meadow sedge
Carex interior
Carex lacustris
Common lake sedge
Carex leptalea
Slender sedge
Carex pellita
Broad-leaved wooly sedge
Carex prairea
Prairie sedge
Carex stipata
Common fox sedge
Carex stricta
Tussock sedge
Carex trichocarpa
Hairy-fruit sedge
Carex utriculata
Carex vulpinoidea
Brown fox sedge
Chelone glabra
Cicuta maculata
Circaea lutetiana canadensis
Enchanter's nightshade
Cirsium muticum
Swamp thistle
Eleocharis sp
Elymus riparius
Riverbank wild rye
Epilobium coloratum
Willow herb
Erigeron pulchellus
Robin's plantain
Erigeron strigosus
Daisy fleabane
Eupatorium maculatum
Spotted joe-pye weed
Eupatorium perfoliatum
Common boneset
Galearis spectabilis
Showy orchis
Galium aparine
Galium boreale
Northern bedstraw
Geum aleppicum strictum
Yellow avens
Geum canadense
White avens
Glyceria stricta
Fowl manna grass
Hasteola suaveolens
Sweet Indian plantain
Helenium autumnale
Helianthus grosseserratus
Saw-tooth sunflower
Helianthus tuberosus
Jerusalem artichoke
Heracleum lanatum
Cow parsnip
Impatiens capensis.
Jewel weed
Iris virginica shrevei
Wild iris
Juncus dudleyi
Dudley's rush
Lathyrus palustris
Marsh pea
Leersia oryzoides
Rice cut grass
Lemna sp
Lilium michiganense
Turk's cap lily
Lobelia cardinalis
Cardinal flower
Lobelia siphilitica
Great blue lobelia
Lysimachia ciliata
Fringed loosestrife
Lycopus americanus
Common water-horehound
Mentha arvensis
Wild mint
Monarda fistulosa
Wild bergamot
Muhlenbergia spp
Muhly grass
Napaea dioica
Glade mallow
Oxalis stricta
Yellow wood-sorrel
Oxypolis rigidior
Pastinaca sativa
Wild parsnip
Pedicularis lanceolata
Swamp betony (lousewort)
Polemonium reptans
Jacob's ladder
Polygonum hydropiper
Water pepper
Polygonum punctatum
Pycnanthemum virginianum
Common mountain mint
Ranunculus acris
Tall buttercup
Ranunculus hispidus nitidus
Swamp buttercup
Ranunculus recurvatus
Hooked buttercup
Ribes americanum
Black currant
Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum
Water cress
Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia laciniata
Cut-leaved coneflower
Rumex crispus
Curly dock
Rumex orbiculatus
Water dock
Salix bebbiana
Bebb's willow
Salix discolor
Black willow
Salix nigra
Black willow
Sambucus canadensis
Saponaria officinalis
Bouncing bet
Saxifraga pensylvanica
Swamp saxifrage
Scirpus cyperinus
Scirpus validus
Great bulrush
Scutellaria galericulata
Marsh skullcap
Silene vulgaris
Bladder campion
Silphium perfoliatum
Cup plant
Sium suave
Water parsnip
Solanum carolinense
Horse nettle
Solidago canadensis
Common goldenrod
Solidago gigantea
Late goldenrod
Stachys palustris
Stellaria longifolia
Symplocarpus foetidus
Skunk cabbage
Thalictrum dasycarpum
Purple meadow-rue
Typha latifolia
Verbena hastata
Blue vervain
Verbena stricta
Hoary vervain
Vernonia fasciculata
Viburnum sp.
Vicia americana
American vetch
Viola soraria
Door-yard violet
Zizia aurea
Golden alexanders