Ridgeway Pine Relict SNA
Project Managers: Mary Ann Feist and Mark Wetter
The Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area is a unique site in Iowa County covering 327 acres. It occurs within the Driftless Area and features dramatic sandstone cliffs, rock outcrops, rock shelters, bottom wet- lands, and a small patch of remnant tall- grass prairie. Pine forests were once ex- tensive throughout southwest Wisconsin, but as the climate warmed oak forests and prairies replaced them. The pine relicts persisted only on the rocky cliffs and steep slopes of the Driftless Area where they were protected from fire. All three of Wisconsin’s native pine species grow within the SNA. White pine (Pinus strobus) dominates, but red pine (P. resinosa) and jack pine (P. banksiana) are also common. On one small slope within the SNA we saw all three of these species growing together side by side! Beneath the pines, the understory consists of an interesting mix of southern and northern species. Characteristic species that we observed included huckleberry, northern bush honeysuckle, rock cap fern, bracken fern, Canada mayflower, goldthread, starflower, rattlesnake plantain, Indian pipe, and wintergreen. Staff, students, and volunteers from the Wisconsin State Herbarium are conducting a floristic inventory of the Ridgeway Pine Relict SNA in cooperation with the WI DNR. Our objectives for this project are three-fold: 1) to provide the WI DNR with a comprehensive vouchered species list for each community typewithin the SNA, 2) to provide the students with valuable field experience, and 3) to get out, enjoy the fresh air and just have some fun! During our first year of the project, we collected over 300 specimens that will be kept at the Wisconsin State Herbarium. In addition to the vouchered species lists, we gathered occurrence records for threatened or endangered species and species of special concern. We also noted occurrences of non-native species, woody encroachment, and other disturbances.