Category Archives: State Natural Areas

2016 Field Trip Photo Contest Winners

All of these photos were taken during Field Trips with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. The name of the Field Trip is included for reference. Join us for our 2017 Field Trip season. Registration opens for current or renewing members on March 22, 2017 at noon. Make sure your membership is current before February 15th, in order to receive your 2017 Field Trip Guidebook in the mail. Grand Prize: Jerry Newman for Muralt Bluff Prairie...

Project highlight: Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area

By Lisa Charron, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin   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 topography–a huge wetland with low sandy ridges and seepage ponds surrounded by 100-200 foot sandstone mesas and buttes. Its namesake, Quincy Bluff, dominates at 200 feet high and two miles long. Numerous...

Restoring more than land: How conservation work in one unique landscape invigorates, connects and inspires

By Lisa Gaumnitz, Foundation member and volunteer (guest blogger)   The sign off the highway announced “Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area” but there were no other clues we had arrived at one of Wisconsin’s unique landscapes to help sow prairie seeds and burn brush that crisp January day. No cars, no people, no sublime nature — just a sign next to a nondescript house with a field behind it and a windbreak of pine...

Winter revelations: Wisconsin’s state natural areas during the barer months

By Josh Mayer   The frozen depths of winter do not put a damper on my explorations of our great state’s natural areas.  In fact, the effects of the climate provide opportunities for new adventures and new perspectives on SNAs that I have already visited, in some cases, multiple times.   Many people are familiar with Parfrey’s Glen, a picturesque sandstone gorge cut into the Baraboo Hills that was designated as Wisconsin’s first SNA in...

Find a winter adventure at a state natural area

By Josh Mayer, Foundation volunteer photographer and guest blogger  (All photos in post by Josh Mayer) The time has come to our wonderful state when the temperatures have chilled and the precipitation is whiter and fluffier…or it will be soon. I used to think this meant that hiking season was over, but I have now come to realize that there are many great opportunities to explore in Wisconsin’s state natural areas. One of the more...

Celebrating Wisconsin’s Wetlands of International Importance

By Tracy Hames, Executive Director of Wisconsin Wetlands Association As executive director for Wisconsin Wetlands Association, I have had the chance to visit hundreds of beautiful wetlands across our state. And while I love every Wisconsin wetland, it’s especially fun to visit rare wetland types like Chiwaukee Prairie along the Lake Michigan shore in southeast Wisconsin. Wisconsin Wetlands Association recognized this rare wetland as a Wetland Gem® in 2009, and just recently I joined more than...

Drumlin and Prairie: Celebrating two of Wisconsin’s Natural Treasures

  By Josh Mayer, Foundation member and guest blogger Smith Drumlin Prairie is owned by The Prairie Enthusiasts, a grassroots conservation organization with chapters in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. TPE has worked to manage and restore Smith Drumlin for nearly 20 years, including regular burning, tree removal, mowing, and invasive species control. In the last couple of years, TPE began to seed the former agricultural field between the two drumlins back to prairie. The site...

Chiwaukee Prairie: A rolling meadow of diversity and change

By Brooke Hemze, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Looking out across a patchwork of grasses and flowers dotted along the rolling meadows of glaciated topography of ridge and swale, I take in the landscape of Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area, the most intact coastal wetland complex in southeastern Wisconsin. A botanist’s dream, Chiwaukee boasts a diversity of more than 400 native species of plants. Foundation Communications Director Lindsay Renick Mayer and I spent the day...

Celebrating a season of spring ephemerals on state natural areas

By Josh Mayer, guest blogger Some may think that the summers in Wisconsin are far too short, but even more fleeting is the spring ephemeral season. In the forest, before the green canopy drapes the forest floor in shade, a bevy of wildflowers emerge and bloom in a wondrous display. On the prairie, the flowering display is much different in the spring than it is later in the summer and fall. There really is never...

Serenity in the Northwoods

By Lindsay Renick Mayer, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin There is a moment early in my hike with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources North-Central Field Ecologist Carly Lapin through Squirrel River Pines State Natural Area that we transcend into the sublime. We have paused so that Carly can show me—a total flora neophyte—how to tell a white pine from a red pine, when the wind picks up and catches in the trees’ needles. For that...

A journey through Wisconsin’s rabbit hole

By Lindsay Renick Mayer I’m not quite prepared for the eccentricity of Kettle Moraine Oak Opening State Natural Area, where oak trees grow out, instead of up, straining to reach for the sun. Trees and invasive plants alike sprout new stems from their roots, multiplying, when other plants would instead succumb to fire. The terrain rolls up the moraine and down into kettles, up and down and up and down, disorienting even the most stalwart...

Foundation member visits 500 State Natural Areas…and counting

By Josh Mayer, Foundation member and guest blogger The last few years have been an eye-opening experience for me. Wisconsin-born and bred, I had learned from an early age that our great state’s landscape consisted of forests and fields with many lakes scattered here and there. But there is so much more! And so it remained as I went off to college and graduate school, the latter of which was rewarded with a digital camera (which...

The Ghosts of Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area

By Lindsay Renick Mayer Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area is haunted by ghosts. That was my impression even before I first visited the 6,600-acre state property earlier this month. The afternoon before my trip, I had spoken to Stan Temple, professor emeritus of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he told me about the gruesome scene that played out at Quincy Bluff in 1871: “That year a major portion of all...

Foundation crafts new strategy to support State Natural Areas

By Barb Barzen Following a decade of supporting restoration work at many of Wisconsin’s 673 State Natural Areas, the Natural Resources Foundation has worked with DNR staff to re-tool the Foundation’s strategy for nurturing these sites over the coming decade. We want to support the best of the best sites statewide and ensure that donors can invest in sites that are near and dear to them. State Natural Areas contain the highest-quality remnants of Wisconsin’s...

Your winter guide to Wisconsin’s State Natural Areas

By Lindsay Renick Mayer There are those of us who, with the advent of the winter solstice, dread the impending subzero temperatures and inevitable snowstorms, stockpiling hot chocolate and dragging the down comforters out of storage. And then there’s Wisconsin DNR State Natural Areas Program Conservation Biologist Thomas Meyer. “I have this clarity when I’m outside enjoying the winter landscape,” Thomas says. “When I’m out in the summer, there are 500 different shades of green,...