State Natural Areas contain some of the rarest and most ecologically important landscapes in Wisconsin and North America. These protected areas provide critical habitat for endangered or threatened wildlife and rare plants. They also contain some of the last remaining parcels of Wisconsin’s native landscapes as they would have been prior to farming and development. But to maintain the delicate balance and keep these landscapes healthy, State Natural Areas require a lot of care and management. Providing for that care and management public lands is a big part of our mission at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. We work to ensure that funding for State Natural Areas will always be available.

The Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area Endowment Fund, held by the Natural Resources Foundation, has supported necessary management at this State Natural Area. The work done at the site by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, helps maintain the rare, natural and beautiful character of the state natural area.

Rattlesnake Mound at Quincy Bluff SNA. Photo by Josh Mayer

Rattlesnake Mound at Quincy Bluff SNA. Photo by Josh Mayer

At almost 6,500 acres, Quincy Bluff and Wetlands is one of the largest and most diverse State Natural Areas. Its location on the bed of the extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin gives it an interesting landscape—a huge wetland with low sandy ridges and seepage ponds surrounded by 100- to 200-foot sandstone mesas and buttes. Its namesake, Quincy Bluff, dominates at 200 feet high and two miles long. Numerous rare plant and animal species thrive in the varied wetland ecosystem, including fragile prickly pear, ebony boghaunter dragonfly, and tiger beetle.

Wetland at Quincy Bluff SNA. Photo by Josh Mayer

Wetland at Quincy Bluff SNA. Photo by Josh Mayer

Funding for State Natural Areas Makes a Big Impact

The Fund has enabled two large purchases that will aid management for years to come. The first purchase was of two new water control structures, which replaced older, defunct equipment. This will help manage the water levels in the wetlands, making them suitable for migrating shorebirds in the spring and fall.

DNR Wetland Management

Wetland management. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

The second purchase was of a utility task vehicle (UTV)-mounted fire/spray tank (pictured below). The equipment makes brush, weed, and invasive species control much more efficient on this huge 6,500-acre property.

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Using the UTV-mounted spray tank to control invasive species. Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR

 

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A spring prairie burn aided by the UTV-mounted tank. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

 

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The equipment purchased with the endowment fund made large-scale prescribed burns possible. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

In addition, the endowment fund can be used to hire employees to conduct management work at Quincy Bluff and Wetlands. “Much of the work mentioned above would not be possible without trained help,” said Jon Robaidek with the DNR.

Trained SNA crew members put in the hard labor to maintain these properties. Crew members:

  • Use a wand torch for prescribed burns;
  • Hand-pull woody invasives;
  • Spray herbicide to control invasives;
  • Operate both heavy equipment and hand tools to manage the wetlands;
  • Collect native seed and later sow it to restore areas of the property;
  • And conduct photopoint visits to document restoration of the site.
seed

Collecting little blue stem seed. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

“Most anything involving the ecological health and management of the Quincy communities had the [SNA crew] as part of it,” says Robaidek.

You Can Support Conservation

The Wisconsin Conservation Endowment(WCE) is a conglomerated endowment fund made up of individual funds like the Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area Endowment Fund. Through the WCE and other means the Foundation provides a bridge connecting people who care with critical conservation projects that need support.

Want to support work like this? Visit our donations page to read about different ways you can give to support Wisconsin’s lands, waters and wildlife.

Blog written by Lisa Charron, former communications assistant for the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.