Habitat Restoration

To get involved with us, contact our Friends of Lapham Peak Habitat Coordinator, John Hillmer: Habitat@JHillmer.com.

Habitat Restoration is when we restore landscapes to health to reestablish an ecosystem filled with a diversity of native plants and animals.  Our restoration efforts begin by removing invasive plants and unnaturally dense overgrowth.  Woody invasives, primarily buckthorn and honeysuckle, choke many of the wooded acres of Lapham Peak.  Invasive plants, such as garlic mustard, crown-vetch, Japanese barberry, autumn olive, and various clovers suffocate all other vegetation.  Wild parsnip and others are dangerous to those who come in contact with them.

For a complete list of invasive issues in Wisconsin, see the WI DNR's website.

When we clear areas crowded by invasives, we make room for a more complex native ecosystem. Clearing allows light to return to the forest, meadow, and prairie, enabling native plants, trees, grasses, and wildflowers to return.  Sometimes we aid the process by planting seeds that are native to the area.  All of this allows the native plants to grow and thrive again; new flowers attract bees and other pollinating insects, which in turn provide for larger bird and animal populations.  Restored areas are also more inviting for visitors as they use the Park and its many miles of trails.

Our Work

We have crews of volunteers who work every month on various Habitat Restoration efforts within the Park's 1,300 acres!  We'd love to have you join us from time to time!  No special skills or training is needed for most of the work!  This work includes:

  • Clearing Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, and other invasive woody trees & brush:
    • Cutting, stacking, burning, and applying herbicides
  • Removing Garlic Mustard and other invasive plants, pulling, and applying herbicides
  • Prairie Restorations:
    • Removing invasive plants and woody brush and various tree species
    • Collecting wildflower seeds
    • Replanting native prairie grasses, plants, and wildflowers
  • Prescribed Burns (we hire contractors and supply certified volunteers to support the work)
  • Brush-hog and Fecon-mowing for large scale removal of invasives  (usually contracted out, but volunteers support the work)
  • We will also help with trail maintenance and re-routing, or tree removal, etc., as requested by the DNR
  • We harvest and provide firewood for the Park and visitors for free, but ask for a donation (100% of all donations are used at this park to help us fund our habitat restoration and maintenance work)
  • We protect hardwoods for future generations by planting new trees, and protecting existing ones, especially Oak trees


John H, Michael N, and Holly S coordinate these efforts for the Park; these folks are volunteers who work with the Park's Rangers and Property Manager on the plans for each effort.

Get Involved

Join our email-notification list by sending an email note regarding your interest to our Friends of Lapham Peak Habitat Coordinator, John Hillmer: Habitat@JHillmer.com.

And/or please consider a donation for this work (see below) as 100% of the supplies and equipment and contract funding comes from donations and occasional grants.

Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, Autumn Olive, Black Locust, Japanese Barberry, and more

Pretty much year round, we remove Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, Autumn Olive, Japanese Barberry, Black Locust etc., at various locations in the park, piling them, and burning those piles.  We focus on areas that are 1) visible to visitors in the park, and 2) will be maintainable in the future (with either herbiciding or fire applications, preferably fire)

Garlic Mustard and other Invasive Plants

In the spring and into the summer, we pull garlic mustard and address other nasty invasive plants (such as wild parsnip, Japanese hedge parsley, and others).

Prairie Work

In the spring or fall, we work with the Property Manager on options for burning the prairies to remove thatch and promote new growth.  In 2015, this work stopped at our Park due to procedural changes that the State mandated.  In the fall & spring of 2020/21, with a grant and private donations, we burned 120 acres of prairie and they looked fantastic that summer after the burn.  Additional prairie (and woodland) burning is now happening each season as donations make this possible.

In the fall, we collect wildflower seeds to aid in replanting areas that need help the following year.  High-school students and corporate volunteer teams often assist with these efforts.


One of our teams usually works 9am-noon on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday year round.  John will send out an email the night before the workday indicating the time and place that we will be meeting.  We usually meet “at the shop” at 9am.  The shop is the maintenance area of the Park; this area is the first road to the left after you get into the park past the entrance (if you get to Homestead Hollow you’ve gone too far).  There is a sign that says: maintenance area, authorized vehicles only; as a volunteer, you are authorized to park there, but please find a spot where you will not be blocking any of the garage doors, dumpsters, or equipment.  This group is nicknamed the "buckthorn busters!"

Tuesdays & Thursdays, or Afternoons

Holly has several areas she’s working on; her workdays and times are flexible, so if you'd like another option with usually a smaller group, we can connect you to her as well (or email her directly at: oakidyll@gmail.com.

Weekends, and/or Scouting

If you work during the week and want to volunteer on the weekends, Mike N leads a group on most weekends.  His current project areas have been on the East Side of the park, clearing from the subdivisions to the Black Trail, and around a pond there, and also around the Tower Hill!  Given the challenge of working on a hill, he's nicknamed the group, the "Billy Goat Gang!"

If you have a Scouting Troup that needs a project or conservation hours, Mike N was a cubmaster for 7 years and then a scoutmaster for 6 years with Troop 49.  He and his wife have all the Youth Protection Training as well.  Mike's email is:  mneimon@wi.rr.com.


You don’t need to work every day, and you don’t need to stick with one team or the other.  If you can work periodically, that would be great; but even if you can only come out once and awhile that will be a big help.  We provide all the tools.  Just wear boots and gloves, and older cloths – especially if the crew is burning piles that day (as you will go home smelling like a bonfire).

We welcome school groups and corporate groups who want to get outside and volunteer.  We will work with you to structure the time any way that works best for you.  Corporate work groups have come out on Martin Luther King Jr Day, or in the summer for a Planning Rally or Team Building Event.  If a meeting place is desired, inside or out, we can provide that for your Team.  If refreshments or a lunch is needed, we can recommend options.  Please send an email note regarding your interest to our Friends of Lapham Peak Habitat Coordinator, John Hillmer: Habitat@JHillmer.com.


Information: We will ask that you fill out a Volunteer Agreement so that the leaders and Rangers will have any pertinent information and an emergency-contact in case one is needed.

Chainsaws: If you want to help with chainsawing, you will first need to attend a DNR hosted Chainsaw Safety Class.  This class is not offered all that often, so it might take a few months or a year to get into one.  (But we need others to use loppers* and to help remove, stack, and burn the piles, so in the meantime we can really use you for other supporting work!).  Chainsawing requires a hardhat with eye & ear protection, and chaps.  We will provide the chainsaws* and supplies*.  We can lend you a hardhat* with eye & ear protection but you might want to purchase your own if you will be doing this often.  You will want to purchase your own chaps if you will be chainsawing.  If costs* are an issue, we can work with you on options.

Loppers, other Tools, and Supplies: any other tools: loppers*, pitchforks*, rope*, etc., will be provided. All fuel and oil* will be provided.  All herbicides* are provided.

If dangerous plants will be removed as part of the day's planned work, additional instructions will be provided for the day (long sleeves, long pants, etc).

Age Restrictions

For cutting, burning, or dealing with dangerous plants or herbicides, volunteers must be at least 18 years old.  When school groups are volunteering, for anyone under the age of 18, the sponsoring group needs to have parental or guardian permission forms (and if they have those, then the Park does not need to see them or have a copy of them).  If the sponsoring group does not require written permission forms then the Park will provide a form for each person and that must be turned into the Park's Office or to the Friends Coordinator for the event.

For anyone of any age that has been certified by the DNR to use power equipment (i.e., chainsaws) there is a separate form that needs to be filled out and kept on record with a copy of the Certification Document at the Park Office.


The Friends of Lapham Peak have a fund, called Habitat Restoration, where money that is donated specifically for this work, for the tools, supplies, and occasional contracting of services will come from.  We need donations for this work to continue.  With the exception of the fuel we use, none of this work, the tools and supplies, etc., is funded by Taxes or User Fees or the Park's Operating Budget.  Rather, this work is funded by the Friends of Lapham Peak with your donations, and grants that we are awarded with from private or public funding sources.


The Friends of Lapham Peak Unit, Kettle Moraine State Forest, Inc. is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization; our Employer Identification Number is: 39-1650068.

Donate to our Habitat Restoration Work using our secure online donation page:

Free the Oaks

Remove invasive species, mostly buckthorn, that are crowding out the oak trees and other desirable hardwoods, to provide room for the native trees to grow and thrive


Free_the_Oaks_v2 (black)

Save the Oaks

Plant new hardwoods, mostly oak trees, keep them watered, and then also protect young trees from the overpopulation of deer

Save the Oaks (IMG_9404)

Recycle the Oaks

Harvest hardwoods, including oaks, hickory, ash, that have fallen or died (we do not take live oaks or hickory).  We will remove cherry trees that are not where they below, such as in the prairies.  We cut, and split, and dry the firewood for at least a year, and then provide this to the park and visitors for free, but we do ask for a donation.  100% of all of the donations for firewood goes to help us with habitat restoration and maintenance expenses, such as contracted burning services, herbicides, chainsaws, and related equipment needs

Recycle the Oaks
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