- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
State Natural Areas Program
State natural areas (SNAs) protect outstanding examples of Wisconsin's native landscape of natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites. Encompassing just over 390,000 acres, Wisconsin's 683 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.
Ready, set, paddle!
State natural areas protect the very best of Wisconsin's native landscape, including wild lakes, streams and rivers. You can welcome in spring by exploring State Natural Areas by canoe or kayak.
Within our "Small Paddles, Big Rewards" guide you'll find 12 easy water-based trips that offer a few hours of peaceful paddling in places that celebrate Wisconsin's natural heritage. Find more SNA water adventures by using the "locate by county" tool or our online mapping application.
The forefather of the State Natural Areas System
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.