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

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Oakfield Railroad Prairie (No. 328)

Oakfield Railroad Prairie

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer


Overview

Location

Along the Wild Goose State Trail, Fond du Lac County County. T14N-R17E, Sections 6, 7. T15N-R17E, Sections 28, 29, 31, 32. 10 acres.

Description

Description

Oakfield Railroad Prairie is 10-acre remnant of the large, deep-soil mesic and wet-mesic prairies once found in this region and has been described as the best remaining prairie in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties. The long, linear strip of grassland lies within a former railroad right-of-way. While most mesic prairies have been nearly extirpated from the state due to human settlement and agriculture, railroads actually helped preserve the prairie through the unintentional fires sparked by the rails and stray cinders from passing locomotives that helped keep the site open and free from woody species encroachment. The northern segment, about ½ mile south of Willow Lawn Road, is the most striking and diverse. Dominant grasses include big and little blue-stem, Indian grass, prairie drop-seed, cord grass, blue-joint grass, and switchgrass. Common abundant forbs include smooth blue aster, Canada tick-trefoil, purple prairie-clover, stiff goldenrod, prairie blazing-star, and heart-leaved golden alexander. Less common are Canadian milk-vetch, glaucous white-lettuce, compass-plant, bottle gentian, and the hemiparasite, bastard toad-flax. A large population of the state-threatened prairie parsley (Polytaenia nuttallia) also grows here. Oakfield Railroad Prairie is owned by the DNR and under the management of Fond du Lac County. It was designated a State Natural Area in 1998.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of County Highways D and Y in Oakfield, go east and north on D 2.5 miles, then east on Lost Arrow Road 0.2 mile to the Wild Goose State Trail. Park along the road and walk or bike the trail north through the natural area. Access is also available from River Road and Willow Lawn Road.

Ownership

Oakfield Railroad Prairie 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.

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