The Whitewater Effigy Mounds Preserve is one of the largest collections of effigy mounds in the country, built between 800 – 1200 A.D.
Heather Patti, ecologist at R.A. Smith National, collaborated with a team led by Tom Jennings of Jennings & Associates Landscape Architecture and assisted by Bob Birmingham, the former chief archaeologist for the state of Wisconsin. This group worked closely with the Whitewater Parks and Recreation Department to prepare a comprehensive park maintenance and restoration plan that included ecological restoration recommendations for the nationally recognized burial mounds and surrounding Oak Savanna remnant. Oak Savannas are the among the rarest plant communities in the upper Midwest.
A stakeholder meeting was held with area residents, local experts, UW-Whitewater students and City staff to gain input on the long-term vision for the preserve. The input was incorporated into an updated park plan, which simplifies the existing trail system, adds parking and common space areas, and provides restoration recommendations for the mounds and surrounding natural areas. Importantly, Native American groups were key stakeholders throughout the planning process.
Heather and Tom assessed the current management needs of the Oak Savanna remnant. Dominance of invasive species and lack of a fire regime were among the top management priorities. They combined their field inventory with input from the stakeholders to prepare a final master plan with recommendations for restoring this special place. The recommendations included a new burning regime, a seed mix appropriate for restoring native grasses and forbs on the mounds, and training recommendations for City workers and volunteers.