The Savanna Sanctuary

The Savanna Sanctuary, a rare pre-Civil War bur oak savanna prairie, is a cherished spot on our property.

A key characteristic of oak savannas is low tree density. It is so low, in fact, that grasses and other herbaceous vegetation become the actual dominants of the plant community. Oak savannas are maintained in nature by a combination of wildfires set by lightning, fires accidentally set by humans, wildlife grazing, low precipitation and poor soil.

In North America, oak savannas are seen in three predominant geographic areas: California, Washington and Oregon; the Southwestern US and northern Mexico, and in the prairie/forests of the upper Midwest. In pre-settlement days, there were an estimated 50,000,000 acres of oak savanna prairie in a wide strip from southwestern Michigan to eastern Nebraska and from southern Manitoba, Canada to central Texas. Only a small fraction remain, in very small pockets.

Due in part to the savanna’s lack of tree density and resulting light canopy, the mixture of grassland, woodland and unique savanna species exhibit a higher diversity than grasslands and woodlands combined.

We have worked extremely hard to return the Savanna Sanctuary to pre-Civil War conditions by eliminating invasive species, restoring the soil to organic status and employing controlled burns to mimic wildfire.

We invite you to use this exceedingly rare micro-ecosystem as a location for key activities during your event – or just take a hike and visit it. You’ll experience something precious few midwesterners have in the 21st Century.

For more information about Savanna Sanctuary please click here to send us an email inquiry or feel free to telephone White Oak Savanna at 608-636-5776.