Welcome to the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum

At one time, most of Fond du Lac County was covered by prairie -- native grasslands that were home to bison, prairie chickens, bobolinks and other wildlife. At the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum on the UW-Fond du Lac campus, a group of volunteers has reestablished the native plants that once grew on this site.

The project began in 1991, with the goal of representing the original plant communities of Wisconsin in a small arboretum. At present, volunteers have planted 42 acres of native prairie grasses and wildflowers, developed two wildlife ponds and planted 176 native trees and shrubs. Most of the wildflower seeds were collected from some of the last remaining original prairie sites in Fond du Lac County. To educate local residents there's an interpretive trail as well as six benches, two picnic tables, and a kiosk for recreation.

The Formal Arboretum is an innovative attempt to depict the native plants and plant communities of Wisconsin in a design representing the "Tension Zone" of our state. This is the area of overlap of northern and southern Wisconsin plant communities, which occurs in the Fond du Lac area. It consists of savannah, lowland forests and northern mixed forests, plus their associated wildflowers.

The Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum is named for Bradley Gottfried, former dean of UW-Fond du Lac, and a major force behind the project's initiation and development. Dean Gottfried's vision and persistence have resulted in the restoration of a portion of native prairie for county residents to enjoy.

Educational Programs

Nature's Second Chance

Steve Apfelbaum
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.
Room UC-114 UW-FDL


Join author Steve Apfelbaum as he discuses his personal experience of restoring the ecology of his Wisconsin farm. Steve's book Nature's Second Chance, which chronicles the thirty year project, has been described as the twenty-first-century sequel to Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac.

Steve Apfelbaum has been a full-time research and consulting ecologist with Applied Ecological Services in Brodhead, WI since 1978 when he founded the company. Steve has conducted ecological research projects in most biomes of North America, and since the early 1980s he has been one of the leading consultants in the U.S. in ecological restoration programs.
Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time's Photo

Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time

Saturday, March 2nd, 10:00 am
Open Circle Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
19 E. 3rd Street


Join us for a screening of the documentary, "Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time," an Emmy-winning full-length film that highlights Leopold's career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement.

Aldo Leopold's Legacy

Jed Meunier
Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Room UC114 UW-FDL


Jed Meunier is an ecologist and research scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources studying forest and fire ecology. His dissertation research was on fire ecology in northern Mexico aimed at guiding forest management and restoration in northern Mexico and the U.S. southwest, very much in line with what Aldo Leopold had himself promoted seven decades prior. Jed received his M.S. in the Wildlife Ecology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Department his great-grandfather started in 1933, where he studied the effects of hunting on declining American woodcock populations. Jed has not lacked sources for inspiration; his mentors and role models include his grandmother, Nina Leopold Bradley, and her siblings. Jed's course, both personally and academically, is very much entwined with the mission and legacy of his family and the Aldo Leopold Foundation where he serves on the board of directors.