- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Eagle Oak Opening (No. 66)
Within the Southern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest, Waukesha County. T5N-R17E, Section 30. 104 acres.
Eagle Oak Opening was the first oak opening found in a statewide search and contains an example of kettle hole moraine topography and large numbers of open-grown white and bur oaks. Most of the former oak opening has reverted to dry-mesic forest but there are areas where some of these prairie species can still be found. Species include big and little blue-stem, Indian grass, side-oats grama, prairie drop-seed, blue-eyed grass, prairie buttercup, alum-root, prairie smoke, New Jersey tea, bird's-foot and prairie violets, shooting-star, pale-spiked lobelia, white camas, goldenrods, and asters. There is also a showy display of pasque flowers in the spring. The area has many glacial formations including kettle holes with ephemeral ponds that are important habitat for amphibians. Eagle Oak Opening is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1968.
From the intersection of Highways 59 and Z four miles west of Eagle, go south on County Z 1.2 miles to a gated access road leading east and northeast to the site.
Eagle Oak Opening 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 an oak opening preserve and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed understory manipulation (see below) will determine the structure of the savanna. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native oak openings.
The native dominant savanna tree species (primarily oaks) are managed passively. However, some thinning of the canopy, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Augmentation of the ground layer will only add species that historically would have been found on the site, using seeds or plugs from local genetic material; this usually occurs in the early stages of restoration. 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, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress wildfires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event can occur if the volume of woody material inhibits fire prescriptions.
- 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.
- Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by township.
- Ephemeral ponds will be off-limits to vehicle access during tree salvage operations.
- The old field will be regularly burned to limit brush invasion and will be eventually converted to prairie with locally-collected seed.
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]