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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Atkins Lake & Hiles Swamp (No. 238)

Atkins Lake & Hiles Swamp

Photo by E. Epstein


Overview

Location

Located (in part) within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Forest & Oneida Counties. T37N-R11E, Sections 25, 36. T37N-R12E, Sections 7, 8, 17-20, 30, 13. 2,527 acres.

Description

Description

Atkins Lake is a soft-water drainage lake lying within a vast conifer swamp (Hiles Swamp) on the Oneida/Forest county line. The lake is unusual in that the entire basin supports moderate to dense growths of emergents and floating-leaved aquatic vegetation including wild rice. Other aquatic macrophytes include pickerel weed, cat-tail, several pond weeds, and an abundance of water-shield, the inflorescence of which gives the lake a red color. These open communities are surrounded by the vast Hiles Swamp, a 1,700 acre complex of muskeg, dense wet forest of black spruce and tamarack, wet forest of tamarack alone, and open bog. Together the area forms perhaps one of the largest and most diverse northern wet forest communities on the Chequamegon-Nicolet. The swamp is home to several boreal plant and bird species uncommon in Wisconsin, including Carex tenuiflora, dragon's-mouth orchid, boreal chickadee, and gray jay. Several islands of pristine white and red pine are known to support eagle and goshawk nesting sites. The surrounding uplands are forested with red and white pines, aspen, and balsam fir. Other noteworthy breeding birds are common loon (Gavia immer), American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), black tern (Chlidonias niger), and ring-necked duck, palm warbler, and Lincoln's sparrow. Atkins Lake and Hiles Swamp is owned by the DNR and the U.S. Forest Service. It was designated a State Natural Area in 1990 and later expanded to include the USFS Hiles Swamp complex in 2007. This site is also recognized by the Forest Service as an established Research Natural Area.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of Yellow Birch Road (FR 2186) and Highway 32 in Hiles, go west on Yellow Birch Road 0.85 miles, then southwest on Atkins Road (FR 2186) about 3 miles, then west and south on FR 2861 1.4 miles. Walk west 0.1 mile to the lake.

Ownership

Atkins Lake & Hiles Swamp is owned by:

  • US Forest Service
  • 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 reserve for northern dry-mesic/mesic, black spruce swamp, and muskeg, as 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 ecosystems.

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 and dredging are not considered compatible with management objectives.

Site-specific considerations

  • This information applies only to the state-owned portion of the State Natural Area, not to the portion that lies within Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

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