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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Starlight Wetlands (No. 613)

Starlight Wetlands

Photo by Eric Epstein

Resource links:

Black River State Forest


Overview

Location

Within the Black River State Forest, Jackson County. T20N-R2W, Sections 13, 23, 24, 25, 26. 1, 054 acres.

Description

Description

Starlight Wetlands features a diverse mosaic of natural communities representative of the Central Sands including white pine-red maple swamp, black spruce swamp, dry-mesic forest, northern sedge meadow, and central poor fen. The poor fen is a large peatland dominated by a narrow-leaved sedge over a dense carpet of sphagnum moss. Woody species such as hardhack, swamp dewberry, and cranberries are also common. In some areas are extensive patches of the common yellow lake sedge, a broad-leaved species. Along the margins of the open wetlands and within the peatland's interior are swamp conifers of black spruce, tamarack, and occasionally, jack pine. The black spruce-tamarack swamp communities occur primarily in the southeastern portion of the wetland basin. Characteristic understory species include Labrador tea, three-seeded sedge, and huckleberry. On the upslope margins is a transition to the white pine-red maple swamp with yellow birch present. The forest is situated on shallow moss peat over moist sand and features an understory of sphagnum, cinnamon fern, skunk cabbage, winterberry, Massachusetts fern, and long sedge. Seepages and occasional spring runs are found within the forest. The dry-mesic uplands support forests of red oak, black oak, red maple, and white oak. Associates include bigtooth aspen and black cherry. The understory is quite open with a shrub layer of American hazelnut, huckleberry, bracken fern, and early low blueberry. Pennsylvania sedge and big-leaved aster are common herbs. The forests, especially the wet coniferous forest, are noteworthy for the number of northern species they support. Among the birds are red-breasted nuthatch, hermit thrush, winter wren, Canada warbler, pine warbler, blackburnian warbler, and black-throated green warbler. Yellow-rumped warbler and yellow-bellied flycatcher occur locally in the spruce-tamarack stands. The wetlands support a number of rare plants including hidden-fruited bladderwort, long sedge, bog fern, yellow screwstem, and crossleaf milkwort. Starlight Wetlands is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2010.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of I-94 and County O in Millston, go east on O 4 miles to the intersection with Smrekar Road. Park and walk south 0.4 miles into the site.

Ownership

Starlight Wetlands 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.

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: Thursday, October 19, 2017