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Contact information
For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Interstate Lowland Forest (No. 165)

Interstate Lowland Forest

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer

Resource links:

Interstate State Park


Overview

Location

Within Interstate State Park, Polk County. T33N-R19W, Sections 1, 2. T34N-R19W, Sections 35, 36. 124 acres.

Description

Description

Interstate Lowland Forest features a mature southern wet forest community on what is periodically an island in the St. Croix River. During periods of high water, an old channel on the area’s north side fills with water and isolates the site. The canopy is composed of tall, rather evenly spaced, straight-trunked trees. Silver maple is dominant with scattered black and green ash, hackberry, and ironwood with many of the trees well over two feet in diameter. Large canopy openings created by Dutch elm disease are now filled with a dense growth of ostrich fern and nettles. Topography is irregular, with many linear levees and a few wet depressions resulting from flooding. On the northeast side is a small open marsh dominated by river bulrush, rice cut grass, prairie cord grass, and reed canary grass. Many species of birds nest in the forest including eastern wood pewee, brown creeper, red-eyed vireo, indigo bunting, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. Interstate Lowland Forest is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1980.

Access

Driving directions

From the junction of U.S. Highway 8 and State Highway 35 in St. Croix Falls, go south on 35 0.25 mile to the Interstate Park entrance. Park maps are available at the visitor center. Follow the park road to the Camp Interstate picnic shelter parking lot. Take the Quarry and Point cross-country ski trails southwest into the natural area.

Ownership

Interstate Lowland Forest 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 floodplain forest reserve, an aquatic reserve, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the forest. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native floodplain forests.

Management approach

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

Site-specific considerations

  • Although mowing in late summer and removal of hazardous trees from over and near trails are allowed activities, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance 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

  • 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