Prairie at St. Katharine Church destroyed

June 10, 2017 GMT

There is a mystery at St. Katharine Drexel.

The prairie that started the garden area of the Parish Center, 408 S. Spring St., was mysteriously mowed down Monday night.

“We still have not been able to uncover who mowed down the prairie after extensive questioning in the parish community,” The Rev. Mike Erwin said. “The destruction of the prairie has taken us completely by surprise and we cannot imagine who would do such a thing as the effort involved could not have been small.”

Livi Clark, from Liv4Prairie, was in eighth grade at the St. Katharine Drexel when she came up with the idea for the prairie. She was the president of the builder’s club and decided to add the prairie garden as a service event. All the students in the club helped to create the garden which featured native Wisconsin plants.

“Our garden is a nod to Native American Spirituality as our patron Saint – Katharine Drexel – did a lot of work building schools for Native American people,” Erwin said. “The garden is split four ways to acknowledge the four winds. The prairie was to the east and demonstrated the strength and gift of creation. The south has the volleyball court and dedicated to our growing youth and all life that grows with the bright sun. To the west is a memorial garden acknowledging those who pass into eternal life. The north has trees with berries that sustain animals through the endurance of winter.”

Liv4Prairie was hired by the city of Beaver Dam to plant prairie gardens around city-owned ponds at the Family Center, Patrick Parker Conley BMX Skate Park and behind Beaver Dam Community Library last year. This year the business will install two additional prairie gardens at retention ponds on Kellom Road.

“It takes a lot of the prairie plants three years to bloom,” Clark said.

The parking lot at St. Katharine Drexel was used to create the garden area. Clark said the soil was not at its best, but the prairie was able to grow.

Parishioner and church maintenance worker Teresa Wolf has been helping to keep the prairie garden going for the last three years.

“We even formed a garden group to help weed the prairie so the prairie flowers could grow,” Wolf said.

Wolf and her son drove by the prairie around 7 p.m. Monday and she saw it standing. However when people arrived on Tuesday morning it was gone.

Clark said people are not aware of the huge impact on the ecosystem that a small prairie can actually make.

“They didn’t even think about how many animals who don’t have a home now,” Clark said.

One woman told Clark that she saw turtles laying their eggs in the area.

“Prairies have amazing benefits,” Clark said.

“It is devastating to now see blank space out there where just days ago we had beautiful plants and flowers that were thriving with years of loving care,” Barbara Heinzen, the Director of Administrative Services at St. Katharine Drexel Parish, said.

Clark said a majority of the prairie is in the roots so there is hope that the prairie will spring back up again. Otherwise it would need to be replanted.

“We will be putting a lot of water on it over the next few weeks to see what we can do to help it,” Wolf said.

If anyone has information about what happened to the prairie, Heinzen said the church members would like to know what happened.