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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Wolf River Bottoms (No. 536)

Wolf River Bottoms

Photo by D. Heath



Shawano County. T25N-R16E, Section 32. 56 acres.



Situated along the Lower Wolf River, Wolf River Bottoms is part of the larger Leeman Bottoms and contains significant stands of mature floodplain forest, which exhibits old-growth characteristics in places. There is no recent evidence of harvest. Large silver maple (15 to 50 inches in diameter), swamp white oak, and green ash dominate the bottomlands. The understory is rich and includes sensitive fern, jumpseed, wood nettle, cardinal flower, and a high diversity of sedges and grasses. Characteristic birds include American redstart, pileated woodpecker, barred owl, and wood duck. Also present are many rare aquatic species including fish, mussels, and invertebrates. A nearby oxbow pond was and produced a large diversity of aquatic invertebrates including the rare freshwater shrimp. This section of river corridor is mostly privately owned and large areas have been subjected to ill-advised logging making long-term protection of this site highly significant. Wolf River Bottoms is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.


Driving directions

The site is only accessible by water.


Wolf River Bottoms is owned by:

  • WDNR


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.


Site objectives

Manage the site as an old growth floodplain forest preserve, an aquatic preserve and wetland protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will mostly determine the structure of the forest. Another objective is to provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native floodplain forests.

Management approach

The native species are mostly 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.


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