Wards Grove Nature Preserve


Wards Grove is the best “mound forest” remaining in the Driftless Area. 335 protected acres of woodlands with populations of sensitive plant and animal species.

Dry-mesic and mesic upland forest communities representing the Freeport Section of the Rock River Hill Country Natural Division cover this dolomite ridge near the eastern edge of the driftless region. White oak, red oak, basswood and sugar maple are the predominate trees, with both red and white baneberry, blue cohosh and shinleaf in the herbaceous layer. The forest has experienced logging and other disturbances in the past, but the previous owners, the Philip Keister family of Freeport, protected the area and enabled it to recover significantly.

Wards Grove is a large forested island between extensive rowcrop areas to the east and forest areas to the west. Its large size, unbroken canopy, mature understory and position with respect to other regional forested areas, make Wards Grove a very valuable site for area sensitive bird species. Acadian flycatcher, ovenbird, American redstart, scarlet tanager, veery, pileated woodpecker and black and white warbler inhabit the forest.

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