Welcome to the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum

At one time, most of Fond du Lac County was covered by prairie -- native grasslands that were home to bison, prairie chickens, bobolinks and other wildlife. At the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum on the UW-Fond du Lac campus, a group of volunteers has reestablished the native plants that once grew on this site.

The project began in 1991, with the goal of representing the original plant communities of Wisconsin in a small arboretum. At present, volunteers have planted 42 acres of native prairie grasses and wildflowers, developed two wildlife ponds and planted 176 native trees and shrubs. Most of the wildflower seeds were collected from some of the last remaining original prairie sites in Fond du Lac County. To educate local residents there's an interpretive trail as well as six benches, two picnic tables, and a kiosk for recreation.

The Formal Arboretum is an innovative attempt to depict the native plants and plant communities of Wisconsin in a design representing the "Tension Zone" of our state. This is the area of overlap of northern and southern Wisconsin plant communities, which occurs in the Fond du Lac area. It consists of savannah, lowland forests and northern mixed forests, plus their associated wildflowers.

The Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum is named for Bradley Gottfried, former dean of UW-Fond du Lac, and a major force behind the project's initiation and development. Dean Gottfried's vision and persistence have resulted in the restoration of a portion of native prairie for county residents to enjoy.

Educational Programs

Snowshoe the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum

Saturday, January 24, 2015, 1 pm to 3 pm
Meet at the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum Shelter


Snowshoe through the prairie and arboretum while looking for animal tracks and other signs of wildlife in winter. If time permits, we will examine the arboretum's dormant trees and explore ways to identify them by looking at their buds, twigs and bark. Snow shoes will be provided by the gracious donation of Attitude Sports of Fond du Lac. Registration is required. No dogs please. Please call 920-313-0190.

So What's the Trouble With Worms?

Bernadette Williams
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 7 pm
Room UC114 University Center


Wisconsin's native earthworms were destroyed during our last ice age, and the forests of Wisconsin as we know them evolved without earthworms. The glacier scoured the land down to bedrock, forcing all life forms to move south and earthworms did not repopulate.
Learn how with the introduction of nightcrawlers and other earthworms, the disturbed soil is causing a decrease in the diversity of plant and animal relationships.

Bernadette Williams is an Invasive Species Conservation Biologist in Forest Health for the WDNR. She works on all things invasive, but specializes in plants and especially earthworms. Bernadette is an avid gardener and bee keeper on the side.


Why Few Prairie and Savanna Plantings Match the Diversity of our State Natural Areas

Scott Weber
Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 7 pm
Room UC 114 University Center


In spite of over 60 years of prairie and savanna restoration in Wisconsin, few plantings match the composition and diversity of native remnant prairies or State Natural Areas. A 30 year analysis of seed mix design, several restoration projects, WDNR seed purchases, nursery data, and costs show that economic and social factors are the some of the primary reasons why our plantings fall short of our expectations.

Scott Weber has owned and operated a native plant nursery for over 20 years with his wife, Muffy Barrett. He has been restoring prairie and oak savanna for over 30 years for private, government, and non-profit organizations, including 19 years with the State Natural Areas program with the Wisconsin DNR.