The "Cow" tree is a visible reminder that fire is a vital part of the prairie and oak savanna ecosystem. Both Native Americans and lightning frequently ignited fires that raged across the open prairie of Minnesota.
The revitalizing effects of fire can be observed almost immediately as the green hue of new growth returns in a matter of days and by the end of the season the prairie can be a sea of grasses over 6 feet tall. Fires are important for the pyrofite (fire loving) plants of the prairie.
As a management tool, prescribed burning keeps down encroaching trees, returns nutrients to the soil, and eliminates non-native plants.
Snapping turtle nests are protected from raccoon and skunk predators by cages. Excessive turtle harvesting for soup in neighboring lakes has prompted us to provide a little extra protection for some of the nests we discover. The eggs are incubated in the sand for 55-125 days depending on the weather. Newly hatched snapping turtles are about the size of ping pong ball.