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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
608-266-0394

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Yellow River Oxbows (No. 361)

State Natural Area program graphic

Overview

Location

Juneau County. T17N-R4E, Sections 5, 6. T18N-R4E, Sections 31, 32. 820 acres.

Description

Description

Yellow River Oxbows contains a floodplain forest of silver maple, green ash, swamp white oak, and river birch. Canopy associates are cottonwood, red oak, box elder, yellowbud hickory, red maple, American elm, basswood, and black ash. The low sandy ridges, slightly higher than the surrounding floodplain support white oak, bur oak, shagbark hickory, black cherry, and white pine. The presence of scattered, large, native conifers within a lowland hardwood community is unique and rare in Wisconsin. The shrub layer varies in density from sparse to impenetrable. Common species include buttonbush, gray dogwood, red-osier dogwood, prickly ash, and winterberry. Lianas of wild grape and woodbine are frequent. Poison ivy occurs sporadically, as groundcover, tall shrub, and a robust vine. Herbs typical of the floodplain include wood nettle, gray-headed coneflower, cinnamon fern, green dragon, cardinal flower, and numerous sedges. Near-level topography and sandy soils characterize the Yellow River watershed. The river meanders and turns frequently creating oxbow lakes, cut-off and running sloughs, and small ponds within the floodplain. Many rare, uncommon, and declining animal species have been documented in the Yellow River Bottoms with many being sensitive to the size, isolation, and quality of the habitat. Species include Blanding turtle (Emydoidea blandingii), red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus), cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea), prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea), Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens), yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea), sedge wren (Cistothorus platensis), and Louisiana waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla). Yellow River Oxbows is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2002.

Access

Driving directions

The area is best viewed by boat. For walk-in access, from the intersection of Highways 21 and 80 in Necedah, go east on 21 about 1 mile, then south on G 6.5, then west on 30th Street 2 miles, then north on 17th Avenue 0.6 mile to a hiking trail leading west into the natural area.

Ownership

Yellow River Oxbows 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.

Management

Site objectives

Manage the site as a reserve for floodplain forest, 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 floodplain forest 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 is not considered compatible with management objectives.

Site-specific considerations

  • Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by township.
  • Upland areas are managed to perpetuate northern dry 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.

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, 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

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For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]

Last revised: Friday, June 20, 2014