What makes this site unique in the world
Ridgeway Pine Relict features a spectacular site with eight separate pine relicts set among soaring sandstone cliffs, numerous rock outcrops, shallow caves and rockshelters. Pine relicts are southern Wisconsin pine forests that have persisted since the last glacier receded some 12,000 years ago when a cooler climate was favorable for the growth of pine forests. As the climate warmed prairie and oak woodlands replaced the pine and today, remnant pine forests remain only on steep slopes and rocky cliffs in the Driftless Area.
These rocky outcrops protected the pine remnants from fire and allowed the pines to reach old-growth status. The relict communities are unlike the northern pine forests because they contain both northern and southern plant species. Within the pine relict areas, white pine is generally more abundant than red pine, but there is good reproduction of both species. Jack pine is also present. Sugar maple, mountain maple, yellow birch, and hemlock constitute a smaller component. The ground flora includes pipsissewa, shin-leaf, wintergreen, huckleberry, and Canada mayflower. There is also a high diversity of ferns present including bracken, bulblet bladder, marginal wood, and interrupted fern. Between the relicts and surrounding them is forested land dominated by white oak with bur and red oak, black cherry, white birch, and shagbark and bitternut hickory. Other significant features include sandstone cliffs with
shaded and open plant communities, diverse spring runs, sedge meadows, and dry-mesic prairie.
Ridgeway Pine Relicts is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1998.
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