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

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Kickapoo Valley Reserve (No. 354)

Kickapoo Valley Reserve

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer

Resource links:

Kickapoo Valley Reserve


Overview

Location

Located between the villages of La Farge and Ontario in Vernon County. 3600 acres.

Description

Description

Located in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin, Kickapoo Valley Reserve features an extensive landscape with a high diversity of plant communities, numerous rare plants and animals, and significant archeological and geological features. Meandering through the site is the scenic Kickapoo River bordered by numerous sheer cliffs and forested bluffs. The surrounding vegetation is diverse with northern stands of white pine and hemlock, extensive, rich southern hardwood forests dominated by sugar maple and oaks, forested spring seeps, southern sedge meadow, shrub-carr, alder thickets, hardwood swamp, and shaded cliffs. The shady, sandstone cliffs contain numerous seeps and harbor many rare plants that are restricted to cool, moist microclimates. These cliffs are important habitat for one of Wisconsin's largest populations of the federally threatened northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense) and the state endangered Lapland azalea (Rhododendron lapponicum), which is found at only one other site in Wisconsin. Other rare cliff plants include drooping sedge (Carex prasina), musk-root (Adoxa moschatellina), purple-stem cliff brake (Pellaea atropurpurea), bird's-eye primrose (Primula mistassinica) and the state threatened cliff cudweed (Gnaphalium saxicola), a central Wisconsin endemic found no where else in the world. Other communities include oak savanna with an understory of native grasses, robin's plantain, culver's-root, hoary puccoon, and spiderwort; dry prairie remnants with little blue-stem, side-oats grama, pasqueflower, and rough blazing-star; red and white pine relicts; and floodplain forest with silver maple, green ash, and American elm. Rare nesting birds including red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus), Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens), cerulean (Dendroica cerulea), Kentucky (Oporornis formosus), and worm-eating (Helmitheros vermivorus) warblers, and Louisiana waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla). Restoration and management within many areas will encourage native vegetation and increase the amount of habitat for the rare plants and animals that live within the site. The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is owned by the State of Wisconsin and Bureau of Indian Affairs - in Trust for the Ho-Chunk Nation, and managed by the Kickapoo Reserve Management Board and was designated a State Natural Area in 2002.

Access

Driving directions

The two SNA units within the KVR are accessible at multiple points along Highway 131, county highways and township roads. Paddlers can access the Kickapoo River at 20 bridge crossings and landings in the 22.5 mile stretch between Ontario and La Farge. The five-mile-long segment between Landing 5 on Highway 131 downstream to Landing 10 on County Highway P, winds through the hearts of both SNA units. Contact the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center in La Farge for access information and maps: S3661 State Highway 131, 608-625-2960. Or visit their website Kickapoo Valley Reserve [exit DNR]

A paddling brochure and map is also available: KVR paddling brochure

Ownership

Kickapoo Valley Reserve is owned by:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • State of Wisconsin

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.

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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Other activities

Other allowable activities such as - but not limited to camping, geocaching and bicycling are determined by the landowner. Please contact them directly or visit their websites for details.

Last revised: Thursday, October 19, 2017