Find
a wildlife area by name.
Search all DNR lands
for a great place to recreate.
Create
a map and plan your visit.
Contact information
For information about Sandhill Wildlife Area, contact:
Sandhill Wildlife Area
1715 County Hwy X
Babcock, WI 54413
715-884-2437

Sandhill Wildlife Area

Sandhill Wildlife Area

Steps up to North Bluff, a lone sentinel in an expanse of flat land that rises 200 feet above the surrounding land.

The 9,150-acre State Wildlife Area was named for a series of gently rolling sandy ridges crisscrossing the property. Sandhill Wildlife Area lies within the bed of ancient Glacial Lake Wisconsin - an expansive region of flat, marshy land interspersed with forests covering parts of seven counties in central Wisconsin. The property features low, sandy uplands of oak, aspen and jack pine forests, large marshes and many flowages. A small herd of American bison, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, Canada geese, ducks, loons, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, shorebirds, songbirds, hawks, owls and furbearers find a great home here at Sandhill. You will find the land is a remote, quiet wildlife oasis amidst a bustling world dominated by people.

Sandhill Wildlife Management Area is managed by a team of Wisconsin DNR wildlife biologists, technicians, a wildlife researcher and a forester. The DNR staff manages not only the Sandhill property, but also the Wood County Wildlife Area, Meadow Valley Wildlife Area and Cranberry Creek Natural Area in neighboring Juneau and Monroe counties. All combined, our small crew manages over 90,000 acres for wildlife and people who enjoy wildlife. The Sandhill WA is currently involved in developing a master plan for the property.

Sandhill Wildlife Area is located in southwestern Wood County, approximately 25 miles south of Marshfield and 17 miles west of Wisconsin Rapids. The property headquarters and visitor's entrance is one mile west of Babcock on County Highway X. The headquarter's address is 1715 County Highway X, Babcock, WI 54413. Sandhill is just one of many state wildlife areas located throughout Wisconsin owned and managed by the Department of Natural Resources.

History

Wildlife and their habitats have endured many changes in central Wisconsin during the past 150 years. Settlers found an abundance of deer, grouse, bear, wolves and bobcats. Great flocks of passenger pigeons nested in the area during the 1870s. The settlement period disrupted many forms of wildlife. The last wild passenger pigeon was shot near Sandhill in 1899. By the 1920s, very few deer remained in Wood County. One year, a local hunter walked all day in Sandhill and surrounding lands without seeing a deer track. Only 15 breeding pairs of sandhill cranes were believed to remain in Wisconsin by 1930s; most were found in and around Sandhill. While destructive to some wildlife, the transformed landscape was beneficial to others. Farmland and adjacent wild, open spaces favored prairie chickens, sharp-tailed grouse and other prairie wildlife for a time. Prairie chickens were particularly plentiful in the region during the early 1900's. Fire was a dominant force influencing the composition and abundance of plant and animal life. The last major fire swept through the area in 1930, burning 500 square miles of the central Wisconsin flatlands. This fire created conditions favoring sun-loving species like the aspen, jack pine, oak and grass-shrub dominated wetlands. Prairie grouse populations disappeared as the forest cover returned. Ruffed grouse, squirrel and deer numbers increased. Other kinds of forest wildlife responded just as dramatically as the new lush forest growth increased food and cover.

Learn more about the rich history of Sandhill Wildlife Area:

Management

Wildlife habitats, whether wetland, grassland or forest, constantly change over time. These changes affect the wildlife that live in these habitats. Many factors either limit or enhance wildlife populations: food, water, cover, amount of wild space, contaminants and people's use of the land. If nothing were done to the land at Sandhill Wildlife Area, the existing aspen, pine and oak forests would age and eventually decay and be replaced by shade-tolerant trees, such as maples. The wetlands would be crowded out by woody shrubs and filled in with the annual accumulation of dead leaves and the grassland prairies would disappear as the surrounding forest encroached. To counteract the inevitable changes of nature in order to provide for a wider variety of wildlife habitats native to Sandhill, DNR staff actively manipulate the land on behalf of wildlife. Most of the wildlife management activities we conduct on our property are actually habitat management activities. However, a few practices actually involve one or more types of wildlife.

The Sandhill-Meadow Valley Work Unit master plan was completed in 2011 and guides the long term management of this property. Progress toward achieving the goals of the master plan are tracked through annual monitoring reports.

Learn more about Sandhill Wildlife natural history and management programs.

Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center

The Sandhill Outdoor Skills Center is an outdoor training center offering programs on a variety of wildlife-related educational and recreational activities. The Center, located on the spacious 9,000 acre Sandhill Wildlife Area, provides a variety of wildlife-related educational ventures. Outdoor programs are enhanced by a shooting range, trails, orienteering course and opportunities for supervised hunting and trapping experience. Educational services are divided into three areas:

Recreation

The Sandhill Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities.

Maps

Download maps of this property:

Driving directions [PDF]
Property map [PDF]

If you are interested in exploring this property further or want to print aerial photos or topographic maps, you can access an interactive map. Then go to the button in the upper left hand corner called Layers and explore from there.

Last revised: Wednesday August 14 2013