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

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie (No. 210)

Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer

Resource links:

The Prairie Enthusiasts



Dane County. T8N-R6E, Section 27 SW¼. 16 acres.



Situated on a low Driftless Area ridge, Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie features a small, but intact dry-mesic prairie and harbors a rich flora of more than 80 native prairie species. Grasses include big and little blue-stem, Indian grass, northern drop-seed, purple love grass, June grass, and numerous Panicum species. Forbs include such showy species as pasque flower, lead-plant, shooting-star, fringed puccoon, compass-plant, blazing-stars, purple prairie-clover, yellow coneflower, black-eyed susan, sunflowers, goldenrods, and asters. Of significance are the uncommon species white camas (Zigadenus elegans) and pomme-de-prairie (Psoralea esculenta), and the state-threatened round-stemmed false foxglove (Agalinis gattingeri). Many birds use the prairie and surrounding area for nesting including eastern meadowlark, eastern kingbird, indigo bunting, eastern bluebird and the uncommon red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus). The site also provides habitat for a variety of snakes, insects, and butterflies. The area has a history of light grazing and although it was never plowed, old furrow marks on the crest are indicative of an old tractor pathway. Today, management activities such as brushing, burning, and mowing help maintain the prairie landscape. Black Earth Prairie is owned by The Prairie Enthusiasts and was designated a State Natural Area in 1986.


Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 78 and KP in Black Earth, go west on KP 1.1 miles, then south on F 0.25 mile, then west on Fesenfeld Road 0.2 mile to a small parking area south of the road.


Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie is owned by:

  • The Prairie Enthusiasts


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.


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.

Non-DNR lands

Hunting and trapping

This is a non-DNR owned SNA: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the land owner. Please contact them directly to find out about their rules for hunting and trapping. You can find a link to other owner websites under the "Resource links" heading above. More details regarding allowable uses of this non-DNR owned SNA may be posted, if available, under the "Access" tab above.

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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, 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]

Last revised: Thursday, March 26, 2015