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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Nine Mile Island (No. 236)

Nine Mile Island

Photo by E. Epstein


Overview

Location

Dunn and Pepin Counties. T25N-R12W, Section 6. T25N-R13W, Sections 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 14, 15. T26N-R12W, Section 31. T26N-R13W, Sections 35, 36. 1,592 acres.

Description

Description

Nine Mile Island is located within an extensive river ecosystem that includes the Chippewa River and Nine Mile Slough and features two high quality native plant communities - oak barrens and floodplain forest. Most of the island is an extensive floodplain forest of silver maple, river birch, green ash, swamp white oak, elms, hackberry, and yellow bud hickory. Understory species include hop hornbeam, common winterberry and herbs such as cut-leaved coneflower, fox, bur and swollen sedges. On the island's northeast corner the sandy, gravelly soils support and excellent oak barrens maintained through the scouring action of floods, and other disturbances, such as fire and grazing. Canopy trees are mostly Hill's oak along with a number of bur and red oaks. There are also a few scattered red cedar and white pine. In some areas with 70-80% shading, the groundlayer still harbors an excellent and diverse prairie component including cream and white wild indigo, stiff goldenrod, bush-clover, rough blazing-star, prairie thistle, whorled milkweed, and asters. Grasses are dominated by big and little blue-stem with lesser amounts of Indian grass, needle grass, June grass, prairie cord grass, and three species of drop-seed. The area has been identified as having an exceptionally diverse fauna with a number of rare species including the largest population of the state-endangered beak grass (Diarrhena obovata). Other rare species include three freshwater mussel species, 9 species of fish, and numerous animals such as the red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) that prefers unfragmented floodplain forest as habitat. Nine Mile Island is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1990.

Access

Driving directions

The main portion of the natural area is accessible by canoe. From the intersection of State Highways 10 and 85 in Durand, go northeast on 85 2.5 miles, then north on M 2.1 miles to a carry-in canoe landing. Park on the road. Canoe across the river to the eastern tip of the island.

Ownership

Nine Mile Island is owned by:

  • WDNR
  • Private

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 reserve for sand prairie, oak opening, and floodplain forest reserve, as a sand prairie and oak opening restoration site, as an aquatic species protection site, as an aquatic reserve and wetland protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed fire will determine the structure of the site's natural communities. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native prairies and oak openings.

Management approach

The ecological characteristics of the prairies and savanna will be primarily shaped by an intensive fire management program. The native sand prairie species are managed actively through tree/shrub control using tree harvest, brushing and especially fire to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Occasional fire-tolerant woody species such as oaks, hickories, and native shrubs such as hazelnut may be retained at low densities. The native dominant savanna tree species (primarily oaks) form the basis for an oak savanna restoration, along with the old field, which can be restored to sand prairie. Some thinning of the canopy, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Augmentation of the ground layer will only add species that historically would have been found on the site, using seeds or plugs from local genetic material; this usually occurs in the early stages of restoration. The floodplain forest is managed passively. Open fields on the terrace are planted to sand prairie species. Other allowable activities throughout the site include control of invasive plants and animals, augmentation of native prairie species after careful review, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress wildfires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event can occur if the volume of woody material inhibits fire prescriptions.

Site-specific considerations

  • Roadside easement areas may be managed sporadically by the designated local, county or state managers.
  • Although removal of hazardous trees from over and near field roads is an allowed activity, 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.

Hunting and trapping

This SNA has multiple landowners: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the land owner. In general, most DNR-owned land allows hunting and trapping. Partner-owned land may have other rules (for example, university-owned lands do not allow hunting or trapping). 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 on the non-DNR land may be found under the "Access" tab above, if available.

Allowable activities: DNR-owned land

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: all SNAs

  • 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
  • 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]

Last revised: Thursday, October 19, 2017