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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Copper Falls (No. 399)

Copper Falls

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Copper Falls State Park


Overview

Location

Within Copper Falls State Park, Ashland County. T45N-R2W, Sections 8, 17. 665 acres.

Description

Description

Copper Falls features northern dry and dry-mesic forest along the shores of the meandering Bad River, which runs through the site. On the low terraces of the river are two oxbows, which support dry-mesic forest dominated by large white pine, sugar maple, red maple, and white ash. Other trees include hemlock, white cedar, paper birch, red oak, balsam fir, and white spruce. The understory is quite diverse due to the variation in topography. Characteristic groundlayer species are beaked hazelnut, American fly honeysuckle, wintergreen, partridgeberry, velvet-leaf blueberry, and many species of ferns. The steep slope along the west side of the river supports a sugar maple-hemlock forest, which has not been disturbed since at least 1916. Birds include blackburnian, black and white, Nashville, northern parula, and Canada warblers, ovenbird, American redstart, blue-headed vireo, hermit thrush, and common raven. Copper Falls is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2003.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 13 and 169 in Mellen, go northeast on 169 about 3 miles to the park entrance. Get a map from the park office. Numerous hiking trails provide access to the natural area and falls.

Ownership

Copper Falls 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.

Objectives

Site objectives

Manage the site as a reserve for northern dry-mesic and mesic forest, as a significant geological site, as an aquatic reserve, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will primarily determine the structure of the forest. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native northern dry-mesic and mesic forest, and geological features.

Management approach

The native species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. The dry-mesic forest will be allowed to convert over time to a more mesic forest condition. Allowable activities 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

  • Although removal of hazardous trees from over and near trails 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.

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: Friday, December 15, 2017