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Help preserve Wisconsin's State Natural Areas for future generations. Give to the Endangered Resources Fund today!
Donate today: make a difference
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Contact information
For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist

State Natural Areas Program

SNA Program logo State natural areas (SNAs) protect outstanding examples of Wisconsin's native landscape of natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites. Encompassing over 380,000 acres, Wisconsin's 681 natural areas are valuable for research and educational use, the preservation of genetic and biological diversity and for providing benchmarks for determining the impact of use on managed lands. They also provide some of the last refuges for rare plants and animals.

Little Bear Hemlocks

Little Bear Hemlocks is one of four isolated remnants of the once vast forest that historically occupied this landscape. Hemlock is the dominant canopy species with many trees over 30 inches in diameter. Photo by Thomas Meyer.

The forefather of the State Natural Areas System

Cliff Germain

Cliff Germain walks the talk of preserving unique and pristine properties.

"Without Cliff, the State Natural Areas system wouldn’t be what it is today." Germain’s first jobs with DNR’s predecessor agency, the Wisconsin Conservation Department, were as a wildlife researcher and then game manager. He had joined the Conservation Department in 1949 after serving in the U.S. Army in World War II and earning a zoology degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, he studied with conservation giants including Aldo Leopold, ecologist John Curtis and leading plant taxonomist Norman Fassett. They inspired him and instilled in him the land ethic and the importance of Leopold’s admonition that “to keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

Read the full story by Lisa Gaumnitz.


Buy a guidebook

The perfect companion for hikers, birders and nature lovers, this guide features 150 of the best natural areas across the state. Buy your guide today!

Exploring State Natural Areas

In this short video, learn about the SNA program that protects outstanding native landscapes throughout Wisconsin. Natural areas provide unique places for low-impact recreation, including hiking and fishing. Hunting is also allowed on most DNR-owned sites.

Last revised: Monday, November 28, 2016