In 1998, the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust purchased the 70 acre property that is now known as Kelly Creek Preserve. The preserve houses a special tributary of the upper Kinnickinnic River called Kelly Creek. This cold, clean feeder stream with wild native brook trout is an important spawning area and includes many springs plus important wetlands as well as remnants of native plant communities. Kelly Creek rises from springs under a picturesque limestone outcropping, and is free flowing the short length to where it meets the main branch of the Kinnickinnic River near County Road J, in the Town of Kinnickinnic. Pumping out more than 700,000 gallons of water per day, Kelly Creek spring helps sustain the cool temperatures vital for naturally reproducing Brown and Brook Trout. Kelly Creek Preserve has been restored to native prairie and oak savanna. The Preserve is open to the public and has been used by local educators and groups as an educational site.
Monthly phenology reports about the Kinnickinnic River and watershed are brought to life by Jane Baffert, UW-RF senior majoring in environmental conservation.
The Impact of a Prairie in the Watershed
Kelly Creek Preserve is a beautiful stretch of native prairie and oak savanna. Upon arriving at the preserve, one can look out into the vast, open space and take in the beauty of the blooming wildflowers and buzzing pollinators. A small footrail will lead you north to experience more views of the preserve, as well as the winding Kelly Creek. Native prairies are a vital part in keeping watersheds and rivers clean, as their rich soil regulates and processes precipitation.
Daisy Fleabane is a common daisy here in the Midwest and can be seen across the Kelly Creek Preserve. These flowers begin blooming in early spring and can continue through August. These resilient little flowers are popular with pollinator species such as bees, flies, and butterflies. Daisy Fleabane leaves are edible and can be used in summer salads or sautés. Their leaves contain nutrients that can benefit cell health and have several uses in traditional native healing practices.
Check out this busy bee! These purple wildflowers are part of the mint family and are called wild bergamot, or bee balm. As their name indicates, bee balm are popular nectar source plants for honeybees and can also attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Bee balm stems, leaves, and flowers are all edible and can be used in seasonings and teas. These versatile and adaptive flowers can grow in various different moisture and soil types. While research is still underway, there may be developing evidence that compounds in bee balm can be used as a natural mosquito repellent!