- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Bergen Bluffs (No. 415)
Vernon County. T13N-R7W, Section 4. 30 acres.
Bergen Bluffs features a good quality southern oak forest located on a scenic bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Large red oak and white oak dominate the canopy with black walnut, black cherry, hickory, white ash, and paper birch also present. As part of a larger tract of contiguous woodland along the river, the forest is an important stopover site for numerous migratory birds. This fact is particularly important given the forest's location within the Mississippi River Flyway, a migratory bird corridor of global significance. Millions of birds use the river corridor during spring and fall migration each year. The natural area provides a high quality "rest area" where birds can stop, rest, and refuel before continuing their migratory journey. The forest also contains high quality breeding habitat for many native songbirds. A nearly vertical, scenic sandstone-limestone rock outcrop is found along the east central site boundary. As home development along the bluffs continues to increase, protection of these ecologically important and unique areas is becoming ever important. Bergen Bluffs is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2005.
From the intersection of State Highways 35 and 162 in Stoddard, go south on 35 2.2 miles to the scenic overlook east of the highway. Park in the lot and walk east into the natural area.
Bergen Bluffs is owned by:
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.
Manage the site as a southern dry-mesic forest reserve and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed understory manipulation (see below) will determine the structure of the forest. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality dry-mesic forests.
The native dominant tree species (primarily oaks) are managed passively. However, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. The mostly passive canopy management and understory manipulation will determine the ecological characteristics of the site. Other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, and access to suppress wildfires.
- • A Wisconsin DOT scenic easement is in place along Highway 35; the area may be managed sporadically by state.
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.
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.
- Cross country skiing
- Horseback riding
- Rock climbing
- Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
- 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
- Camping and campfires
For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]