One of the last protected remnants of a once vast regional wetland system, Heckrodt Wetland Reserve’s forested wetland provides as much productivity as a similar patch of tropical rainforest. The forest consists of towering trees, dense shrubs, and seasonal plants on the forest floor. The combination of these plants, the wetland soils, and hydrology are what make this area function as a true forested wetland that supports many species of migratory birds, such as wood ducks (Aix sponsa) and numerous warbler songbird species.
Heckrodt’s forested wetland consists of Wisconsin Southern Hardwood swamps and Floodplain forest cover types, which are dominated by deciduous tree species including silver maple (Acer saccharinum), red maple (Acer rubrum), hybrids of red and silver maples (e.g., Acer X freemanii), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), black ash (Fraxinus nigra), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), swamp white oak and eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoids). Associate tree species may include musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana), and American elm (Ulmus americana). Soils consist of Kingsville mucky loamy fine sand and are saturated during much of the growing season. These forested wetlands are important for stormwater and floodwater retention. They also provide habitat for wildlife, including white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), furbearers, birds, and amphibians.
The Heckrodt Wetland Reserve Environmental Reconnaissance Report reported that despite the pressures from development completely surrounding the property, the wetland continues to provide valuable wildlife habitat. The site stores floodwaters from the developed upland and removes some sediment and nutrients from runoff water before it flows into Lake Winnebago. A variety of wildlife species, both game and nongame categories of birds and animals, utilize the area extensively.