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

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Ward/Swartz Decatur Woods (No. 231)

Ward/Swartz Decatur Woods

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer


Overview

Location

Green County. T2N-R9E, Section 15. 12 acres.

Description

Description

Ward/Swartz Decatur Woods contains a high quality southern dry-mesic forest remnant situated on a northeast facing slope overlooking the Sugar River. Large red and white oaks dominate, some as large as 2 feet in diameter. Other canopy species are shagbark hickory, basswood, and slippery elm. The understory is rich in both shrub and herbaceous plants including witch-hazel, bloodroot, Dutchman's-breeches, rue anemone, hepatica, trout lily, bellwort, mayapple, and wood anemone. The woods is pictured in John Curtis' book, The Vegetation of Wisconsin and was one of his Plant Ecology Lab sites where baseline ecological data was gathered in the 1940's and 50's. In the past few years, oak wilt has killed a few trees and some have been removed for firewood. The site was donated to Wisconsin by Robert and Dorothy Swartz. Ward/Swartz Decatur Woods is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural area in 1990.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of State Highway 11 and County F (4th Street) in Brodhead, go west on F 1.7 miles, then north on Park Road about 1.5 miles. The natural area lies west of the road.

Ownership

Ward/Swartz Decatur Woods 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 southern dry and dry-mesic forest reserve and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed understory manipulation (see below) will determine the structure of the forest. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native southern dry and dry-mesic forests.

Management approach

The native dominant tree species (primarily oaks) are managed passively. However, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. The mostly passive canopy management and understory manipulation will 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

  • Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by township.

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