Wetlands of Pleasant Valley Conservancy


Detailed assessment of the wetland complex!

An assessment of the Pleasant Valley Conservancy wetland complex has been completed by our contractor, Integrated Restorations, LLC. This company specializes in wetland restoration and has been working to control reed canary grass, sandbar willow, hybrid cattail, and other invasive species at PVC for the last 15 years.

Download the detailed report.

According to the report, the 35-acre complex is a mosaic of seven unique wetland types: riparian floodplain, emergent aquatic, open water, shrub-carr, peaty sedge meadow, wet prairie, and calcareous fen/spring.

The wetland complex supports 163 indigenous species of native plants, all listed in the report. The Floristic Quality Index (FQI) has a value of 62.2, indicative of a remnant natural area of remarkable quality. Thirty-eight species have a coefficient of conservatism (C-value) greater than or equal to 7, and 16 species have a C value greater than or equal to 8. These values are indicative of remnants of high-quality and with the least amount disturbance. Thus PVC has been justified in placing high priority on its wetland restoration work.

One plant species, sweet Indian plantain (Hasteola suavolens) is a species of Special Concern in Wisconsin.

Read the detailed report


Overview of the Pleasant Valley Conservancy wetland:

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 plant and animal species are not aware of the property boundaries.) 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.

Since 2013 we have been burning only that wetland actually owned by Pleasant Valley Conservancy. Starting with a 5 acre burn in 2014, we have enlarged the burn each year. In 2017 we burned 15 acres, which included almost all of the high-quality sedge meadow. See this link for a map of the burned area.

The very invasive hybrid cattail (Typha X glauca) first appeared in our wetland in 2015. With support from a Wisconsin DNR Aquatic Invasive Species grant, this plant is being eradicated. See this link for details.

A substantial spring-fed watercourse runs through Pleasant Valley Conservancy. However, most of the water to the wetland is supplied by the numerous calcareous 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. See listing of birds found at Pleasant Valley Conservancy.

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.
Early Autumn 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.
Typical wetland burn. The principle fuels are sedge meadows and cattails.
View after a 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 Integrated Restorations list gives a detailed look at the diversity.

 

Photo Gallery of Wetland Plants at Pleasant Valley Conservancy