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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Ottawa Lake Fen (No. 128)

Ottawa Lake

Photo by Josh Mayer


Overview

Location

Within the Ottawa Lake Recreation Area, Southern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest, Waukesha County. T6N-R17E, Section 34 W½NW¼. 45 acres.

Description

Description

Ottawa Lake Fen features lakes connected by a deep marsh and extensive shallow marl flats with a unique assemblage of both alkaline and acid-loving plant species. Ottawa Lake is a remnant lake located in an old glacial lake basin at the edge of end moraine deposits. The smaller northern lake is fed by numerous seepage springs, bubbling springs, and cold inlet streams and flows south into the larger Ottawa Lake. An unusually large number of wetland and aquatic plant communities occur within the site including submergent and emergent aquatics, southern sedge meadow, and shrub carr. The extensive fen-like marl flats are dominated by spike rushes along with pitcher plants and gentians. The natural area is also rich in animal life including amphibians, reptiles, clams, and snails. Wading birds and waterfowl frequent the shallows. Birds include green heron, blue-winged warbler, yellow warbler, and willow flycatcher. Ottawa Lake Fen is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1976.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of County Highway Z and State Highway 67 in Dousman, go south on 67 4.9 miles to a parking area west of the highway. The easiest access is by canoe from a boat landing on the southwest side of Ottawa Lake.

Ownership

Ottawa Lake Fen is owned by:

  • WDNR

Maps

The DNR's state natural areas program is comprised of lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals. While the majority of SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety, or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities. Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details.

The data shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries.

Objectives

Site objectives

Manage the site as a preserve for calcareous fen and southern sedge meadow, as an aquatic reserve and wetland protection area, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed fire will determine the structure of the wetlands. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native calcareous fens and sedge meadows.

Management approach

The native aquatic species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the lake. The native wetland species are managed actively through tree/shrub control using brushing and especially fire to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Native wetland conifers and black ash may be retained at low densities. A fire management program will be used occasionally for management purposes, though its usage is limited due to the very wet nature of the site in most years. Other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, and access to suppress wildfires.

Site-specific considerations

  • Although maintenance of the trails, boardwalk and observation tower is allowed, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance within the Natural Area should be minimized to the extent possible.

Recreation

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for a variety of recreational activities as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map and/or under the "Access" tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

Allowable activities

In general, the activities listed below are allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted under the "Access" tab above and posted with signs on site.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping

Prohibited activities

  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material, alive or dead. Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Camping and campfires
  • Geocaching

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]

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Last revised: Monday, June 19, 2017