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It’s National Public Lands Day! Explore One of Wisconsin’s 668 Natural Areas!

Field trips and new video help people explore State Natural Areas; National Public Lands Day is Sept. 28

News Release Published: September 20, 2013 by the Central Office

Contact(s): Jim Woodford, DNR, (715) 365-8856

MADISON – National Public Lands Day is a great time to explore Wisconsin’s 668 State Natural Areas, whether through a personal adventure, a free guided field trip to select State Natural Areas in Dane, Door, Forest and Vernon counties, or by enjoying the properties through a new video.

The Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation program is sponsoring field trips to four State Natural Areas on or about National Public Lands Day, Sept. 28. The guided field trips are to Battle Bluff Prairie in Vernon County; Giant White Pine Grove in Forest County; Mazomanie Oak Barrens in Dane County; and Cave Point-Clay Banks in Door County.

Each field trip will occur within one of the DNR’s land program’s districts and will emphasize unique ecological features found within that district. All four field trips will be led by a program ecologist with extensive knowledge of the property and its special features, according to Jim Woodford, a biologist in the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation who is helping coordinate the field trips.

Wisconsin has the nation’s largest and oldest natural areas protection program, which seeks to preserve the best of the natural communities remaining on the landscape. About one-third of State Natural Areas are owned by partner groups.

Ninety percent of Wisconsin’s endangered plant species and 75 percent of endangered animal species are found on these sites, which are wonderful places to explore, Woodford says. On state-owned State Natural Areas, hiking, fishing, cross country skiing, hunting and trapping are allowed, with a few exceptions, he says.

Field trip dates and details

Specific information for each field trip is provided below and by clicking on the State Natural Area name. Please RSVP to the field trip leader listed below. There is no cost to participate in these field trips.

Battle Bluff Prairie, Vernon County, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 27 – Learn about management of Wisconsin Bluff Prairies, the rare species that inhabit them, and why these sites are considered “globally rare.” Also see spectacular views of the Mississippi River, native grasses, and the last blooming prairie plants of the season. After a half-mile walk-in, the hike may get strenuous as participants climb around a steep hillside near cliffs and rock outcrops. Wear flexible clothing and good hiking shoes. Bring plenty of water, snacks or a sack lunch. The potential to see fall migrating raptors will be high so bring binoculars, if interested.

Please meet at 11 a.m. at the Pronto gas station parking lot in DeSoto, WI (only gas station in DeSoto). DeSoto is located at the intersection of State Highway 35 and Highway 82, 30 miles south of La Crosse and 30 miles north of Prairie du Chien. Please park just south of the station near the Forest Fire Danger sign; check the meeting location web map.

Please RSVP your intent to join Trip Leader: Armund Bartz, DNR District Ecologist, by Sept. 25 by phone: 608-785-9019 or email:


Giant White Pine Grove State Natural Area – Forest County, 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 28 – See one of the finest examples in northeastern Wisconsin of old-growth hemlock-hardwoods with a super canopy of white pine. Learn about the distinguishing characteristics of old-growth forest, benefits to wildlife, and the status of old-growth forests in Wisconsin while hiking through the forest.

Meet at 10 a.m. at property parking area/trailhead. Directions: from the junction of Highways 45 and 32 in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, go south and east on State Highway 32 for 4.7 miles, then east on Julia Lake Road 0.6 miles, then south and east on Scott Lake Road (Forest Road # 2183) 3.1 miles, then north on Giant Pine Road (Forest Road # 2414) 1.6 miles to a parking area/trailhead on the west side of the road.

Please RSVP your intent to join Trip Leader: Ryan Magana, DNR District Ecologist, by Sept. 25 by phone: 715-635-4153 or email:

Mazomanie Oak Barrens State Natural Area – Dane County, 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 28 – Join a biologist and an ecologist for a hike through the oak barrens and sand prairie that are protected on this State Natural Area. View the diverse remnant plants and discuss the animals and birds that call this piece of the “Wisconsin Desert” home. See late summer asters in bloom, a native Wisconsin cactus, and discuss habitat restoration including prescribed fire and invasive species control that are occurring on the property.

Meet at 10 a.m. at the northeast parking lot along County Hwy Y, rain or shine. Directions: from the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and State Highway 78 just east of Sauk City, go south on State Highway 78 1.2 miles, then west on County Highway Y about 1 mile to a parking area located on the south side of the road.

Please RSVP your intent to join Trip Leaders: Nate Fayram, DNR Biologist, and Sharon Fandel, DNR District Ecologist, by Sept. 25 by phone: 608-273-5943 or email:

Cave Point-Clay Banks State Natural Area (Shivering Sands Unit) – Door County, 10 a.m. to noon, Sept. 26 – Explore large tracts of lowland coniferous forest that grade to upland stands of mixed northern hardwood/conifer forest that protect two undeveloped lakes. Explore the shoreline of Arbter Lake, which supports a lake-edge fen community harboring the state-threatened coast sedge and a breeding population of the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly. A discussion of local geology will highlight the unique ridge and swale habitat type and the influence of the Niagara Escarpment on Door County’s many natural communities.

Meet at the Hitching Post (address: 4849 Glidden Drive, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235), which is located at the corner of County Highway T and Glidden Drive at 9:45 a.m.

Please RSVP your intent to join Trip Leader: Joe Henry, DNR Northeast District Ecologist, by phone: 920-362-1908 or email:


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