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Contact information
For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Aurora Lake (No. 127)

Aurora Lake

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer


Overview

Location

Within the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Vilas County. T41N-R8E, Sections 18, 19. 250 acres.

Description

Description

Aurora Lake is a 94-acre undeveloped, shallow, soft water drainage lake located in an elongated pitted outwash basin. The bottom is primarily muck with a maximum depth of only 4 feet. The fertile water is dominated by wild rice and supports a diversity of submerged and floating leaved aquatic plants including common bladderwort, water-milfoil, pondweeds, waterweed, white and yellow water-lilies, and small bur-reed. The northern half of the lake consists of a quaking bog mat of sphagnum and sedges and contains the rare boreal bog orchid (Platanthera dilatata), a species of concern in Wisconsin. Several islands of tamarack with spruce and red maple occur in the lake while the surrounding wet forest consists of tamarack and black spruce swamp and second-growth white birch. The fishery is northern pike, perch, and sunfish but is subject to winterkill. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) use the lake along with muskrat, beaver, and waterfowl. Aurora Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1976.

Access

Driving directions

From the north junction of State Highway 155 and County Highway N in Sayner, go west on N 2.1 miles, then north on Razorback Road 3.8 miles, then west on Aurora Lake Road 0.3 mile to a boat landing on the east side of the lake. The area is best seen by canoe.

Ownership

Aurora Lake 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.

Management

Site objectives

Manage the site as a northern wet forest preserve, an aquatic preserve and wetland protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Also, maintain an exceptionally large frost pocket. Natural processes will determine the structure of the forest, lakes and associated wetlands. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native northern wet forests and aquatic ecosystems.

Management approach

The native species are managed mostly 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. Also, maintenance of the frost pocket may include occasional brushing or burning. Salvage of trees after a major wind event is not considered compatible with management objectives.

Site-specific considerations

  • Although maintaining access road and boat launch to Department standards is an allowed activity, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance should be minimized to the extent possible. Mowing should be timed to avoid dispersal of invasive plant seeds, and mowing equipment should be cleaned if invasive plant seeds are present.
  • Augmentation of the wild rice population can be considered after scientific review.

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

  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
  • Collecting of animals, 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
  • Geocaching

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For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]

Last revised: Monday, October 27, 2014