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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Oxbow Rapids (No. 163)

Oxbow Rapids

Photo by Douglas Fields


Overview

Location

Within the Upper Wolf River Fishery Area, Langlade County. T32N-R13E, Section 25. T32N-R14E, Section 30. 40 acres.

Description

Description

Located along the Upper Wolf River, Oxbow Rapids contains a northern wet-mesic forest with exceptionally large white cedars. This area of the Wolf River is known as "the oxbow" as it cuts through a substantial interlobate moraine producing a steep and wet seepage slope with numerous seep springs and several spring runs. The slope supports old-growth scattered hemlock, white cedar, black ash, and basswood. The groundlayer is dominated by spotted jewelweed and contains the uncommon lance-leaved grape fern. The bottomland downstream from the oxbow rapids has several pockets of old-growth white cedar and hemlock. The lands farther from the river are hardwoods of medium age. Bird life includes Canada warbler, magnolia warbler and blackburnian warbler. The river here is very scenic and undisturbed and the rapids are among the best white water in Wisconsin. Oxbow Rapids is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1980.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of State Highway 64, County Hwy. P, and Frailey Road, 2 miles east of Elton, go north on Frailey Road 5.2 miles to a county fire lane, then east on the fire lane to the railroad which forms the west boundary.

Ownership

Oxbow Rapids 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 an old growth northern wet-mesic forest reserve and an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the natural communities represented here. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native northern dry-mesic forests.

Management approach

Native species are managed passively, allowing nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. Exceptions include control of invasive plants and animals, and maintenance of existing facilities. Salvage of trees after a major wind event is not considered compatible with management objectives.

Site-specific considerations

  • Railroad corridor management occurs sporadically within the railroad easement area.

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

  • Camping and campfires
  • 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
  • Drone use, unless authorized by a SNA research permit
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use

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: Thursday, October 19, 2017