We are dedicated to protecting and caring for our lands through restoration, field research, education, and community engagement. We invite you to learn more below about the ecological features of our preserves, as well as our field research and land management activities. You can contribute to the care of and ever-expanding knowledge about these lands by conducting field research and/or becoming a volunteer.

Ecological Features

Composed of 104 acres the Ecosystem Preserve, 44 of these acres are open to the public to explore via more than one mile of walking trails. The additional 60 acres consist of the Buiten Wildlife Sanctuary which is used for scientific research and is not open to the public. Due to its topographic relief and varied use history, the Ecosystem Preserve encompasses a diverse complex of terrestrial, aquatic and transitional communities.

Terrestrial landscapes include:

  • Mature, mixed hardwood forest
  • Secondary woodlands of varying age
  • Successional shrub lands in old agricultural fields
  • Native plant gardens
  • Constructed sand prairie habitat
  • Constructed tallgrass prairie habitat

Wetland and aquatic landscapes include:

  • Kettle swamp
  • 13 natural ponds (3 ephemeral; 8 permanent)
  • 3 created water treatment ponds associated with Prince Conference Center
  • Whiskey Creek and other intermittent streams

Biodiversity:

  • 260 plant species
  • 227 animal species (179 birds, 27 mammals, 8 reptiles, 10 amphibians, 3 fish)
  • Floristic Quality Index score of 45 (based on non-native species) (making the preserve a site of state-wide significance, and irreplaceable with current restoration techniques)

Flat Iron Lake Preserve is composed of 68 acres. Thanks to the restoration efforts of Fritz and Carol Rottman, this preserve has a beautiful, rich ecosystem with high biodiversity.

Terrestrial landscapes include:

  • 18 acre constructed prairie
  • deciduous forest

Wetland and aquatic landscapes include:

  • 23 acre kettle lake
  • black ash swamp

Biodiversity:

  • 215 plant species (40 of which are non-native)
  • 163 animal species (131 birds, 13 mammals, 9 reptiles/amphibians, 10 fish) as of 2017. Species are still being discovered.
  • Floristic Quality Index score of 55 (making the preserve a site of state-wide significance, and irreplaceable with current restoration techniques)