Habitats of Maywood
At 135-acres, Maywood is the City of Sheboygan’s largest park. The park grounds feature six unique habitats. Maywood is located in the Wisconsin tension zone, where the boreal forests that predominate the northeast part of the state transition to the prairie portions of the southwest part of the state. Thus, Maywood provides visitors the opportunity to experience both areas in one location.
The creation of the demonstration prairie occurred from 1984-1989 in the northeast section of the park. Today, the prairie covers roughly 21 acres and can be easily accessed from the parking lot. The prairie overlook, a project funded by the Rotary Foundation of Sheboygan, offers a beautiful view of the compass plant, coneflowers, rattlesnake master, big and little bluestem, and spiderwort… just to name a few. One unique aspect of the prairie is the large Norway maples that once lined the driveway leading into the park. These remain as a nostalgic reminder of the original Ellwood H. May property.
The Pine Forest
The pine forest began in the early 1980s with area fourth graders assisting with the planting. Additional tree planting continues in this area. This section features a variety of evergreens including white and red pines that are intermixed with other tree species. The cover provided by the pines makes it a favorite habitat for deer, squirrels, rabbits and other wildlife. Great horned owls are sometimes seen here as well.
The Maple Forest
The Maple Forest, otherwise known as the mixed hardwood forest, contains a great mixture of maples, oaks, basswood, birches, beech, and cherry trees. In Spring, an assortment of native wildflowers fill the forest floor and there are always an abundance of chipmunks, squirrels, and woodchucks to be spotted. In spring approximately 75 sugar maple trees are tapped for collecting sap that is then turned into maple syrup.
The ponds were created in 1988 as an outlet for the flow of the many natural springs on the property’s hillside. The large north pond is deeper and contains fish cribs that were created to help with fish habitat and controlling invasive species. The Maywood ponds contain an abundance of frogs and tadpoles, painted and snapping turtles, bluegill, bass, and are an essential educational tool for studying aquatic life.
Restoration efforts of the wetlands took place when reconstruction began on Hwy 42 in the early 1990s. Drainage tile lines that remained from the farm fields were removed and natural vegetation was allowed to take over. Recently the wetlands area has been part of the Pigeon River Estuary Restoration Project in partnership with Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership. The project included removal of invasive phragmites and planting of native trees and shrubs.
These wetlands, considered a flood plain, help to naturally filter the property and control run-off during the spring snow melt and after heavy rains.
The Pigeon River
The Pigeon River originates in the Town of Meeme in Manitowoc County and winds its way south to Maywood, eventually emptying into Lake Michigan.
One iconic structure at Maywood is the suspension bridge traversing the river. Constructed in 1986, the bridge offers a unique perspective of the shorelines. Spawning salmon, suckers, and smelt make their annual migration up river, and other wildlife such as crayfish, otters, and muskrats can be seen year round. The Pigeon River corridor provides excellent birdwatching opportunities.
The Bur Oak Property
In 2005, The Garton Family gifted a 35-acre parcel land trust to the City of Sheboygan. It was named Bur Oak after the impressive Bur Oak tree located there. The property is stewarded by Maywood under the guidance of Glacial Lakes Conservancy who holds the land conservancy on the property. An important part of the Pigeon River watershed and Lake Michigan Basin, the property includes wetlands, woodlands, and ponds. Guided tours are offered periodically by Maywood and Glacial Lakes Conservancy staff.
To learn more about the Bur Oak property visit the Glacial Lakes Conservancy website.