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

Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? / Luminary Walk

Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 2pm  
Room UC 114
Luminary walk to follow film starting at the Gottfried Shelter

Widespread use of single use disposable bags in our culture is a very pervasive problem.  In this country, we use an estimated 190,000 disposable bags per second requiring 12 million barrels of oil each year.  Are our lives becoming too plastic?

Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? is a 2010 American documentary film exposing the effects of plastic bags and other plastic consumer merchandise, and its effects on land ecosystems, the marine environment and the human body.

Snowshoe the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum

Saturday, January 28, 2017 1p-3p
Meet at the Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum Shelter

Snowshoe through the prairie and arboretum while looking for animal tracks and other signs of wildlife in winter. During the snowshoeing, we will talk about some of the plants of the prairie and dormant trees in the arboretum. Snowshoes will be provided by the gracious donation of Attitude Sports of Fond du Lac. Pre-registration is required. No dogs please. Please call 920-940-8869.


in conjunction with FDL County Audubon
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 7 pm
Room UC 114

This wide-ranging and contemplative documentary explores our deep-seated connection to birds and warns that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own.  Humans once believed that birds could carry messages; their presence was meaningful.  Birds have helped predict the change of seasons, the coming of storms, and the rise of toxins in the food chain.  Once again they have something to tell us, and the message is not a comfortable one.  The Messenger is a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of the imperiled songbird, and what it would mean to all of us on both a global and human level if we were to lose these wonderful beings.  The Messenger brings us face-to-face with a remarkable variety of human-made
perils that have devastated thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and many other airborne music makers.  It is an engaging, visually stunning, emotional journey.