Ipswich Prairie encompasses a narrow, 1.2 mile long stretch of mesic prairie straddling the Lafayette-Grant County line along Ipswich Road southeast of Platteville. Park anywhere along the road. I don’t recall the width of the shoulder in this area, but the road was not a very busy one.
Much of the area in this part of Wisconsin was once prairie but was long ago subsumed into agricultural usage. This narrow strip of prairie escaped the plow because it was within a railroad right-of-way and its prairie structure was maintained by occasional fires caused by the sparks produced by passing trains. Most such “railroad prairies” in the state now lie along state trails, but Ipswich Prairie is an exception as it occupies a strip of land between agricultural fields and the road. It is a site that certainly seems to maintain its praire potential but at the time of my visit was quite overtaken with low quality prairie species and invasives. Queen Anne’s lace, sumac, and the insidius spotted knapweed were abundant when I visited. The challenges of prairie located between the agricultural field and the road are numerous and I hope that in the time between then and now, some attention has been paid to this site. Someday, I will have to stop by again and see how the prairie lives on.
More of my photos (and full-res) from Ipswich Prairie can be viewed here.
|Natural Communities / Geology||Mesic Prairie|
|Easy to Find||Yes|
|Best Seen By||Foot|