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- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Nixon Lake (No. 186)
Within the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Vilas County. T42N-R7E, Sections 23, 24, 25. T42N-R8E, Sections 19, 30. 737 acres.
Nixon Lake features a complex of natural features including extensive wet meadow and shrub swamp, conifer swamp, muskeg, northern dry forest surrounding an undeveloped drainage lake. Bordering Nixon Lake, Nixon Creek, and Partridge Creek is a mostly open shrub-herb wetland of American woolly-fruit sedge, blue-joint grass, bog birch, marsh bellflower, marsh cinquefoil, water hemlock, Virginia water-horehound, and marsh fern. Extensive beds of submerged aquatic vegetation occur in the inlet and outlet streams. Marsh and bog species including cat-tail, bulrush, sweet fern, white meadowsweet, leather-leaf, and bog rosemary are significant in areas. Tamarack is scattered unevenly throughout the wetland and becomes co-dominant with black spruce away from the lake and streams. On gently rolling pitted sandy outwash northeast of Nixon Lake is a dry forest dominated by jack pine. Associates include red pine, balsam fir, red maple, and black cherry. The understory includes beaked hazelnut, bracken fern, winterberry, blueberry, Canada mayflower, gay-wings, and cow-wheat. The 110-acre Nixon Lake is a moderately fertile drainage lake that supports dense beds of aquatic vegetation. Common species include Robbins pondweed, big-leaf pondweed, floating pondweed, flat-stem pondweed, water-lilies, northern water-nymph, pickerel weed, common water-weed, and wild rice. Nixon Creek, the lake's outlet, empties into the Manitowish Flowage about two miles downstream. The lake and surrounding wetlands are extensively used by numerous water birds including mallard, American black duck, blue-wing teal, wood duck, mergansers, coots, and Canada geese. Principal fish species are muskie, walleye, large-mouth bass, small-mouth bass, and panfish. Nixon Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.
The area is best seen by canoe. From the junction of County K and Nixon Lake Road 5 miles east of Boulder Junction, go north on Nixon Lake Road 1.5 miles to Nixon Creek.
Nixon Lake 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 a northern sedge meadow and northern dry forest reserve, as a wetland protection area and aquatic reserve, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed vegetation manipulation will determine the structure of the forest and wetland. Small patches of northern dry forest occur on islands and peninsulas in the vast meadow and these patches are anticipated to maintain much of the dry forest character over time due to abundant light penetration. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality northern sedge meadows and northern dry forests.
The sedge meadow species and forest understory species are managed actively through tree/shrub control using tree harvest, brushing and fire to mimic natural disturbance patterns. The native dominant forest tree species (primarily oaks and red pines) are managed passively, though some thinning of the canopy may be needed. Other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, and access to suppress wildfires.
- Although removal of hazardous trees from over and near state-approved snowmobile trails is an allowed activity, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance must be minimized, and must have no impact on the rare species found at the site.
- Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by township.
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, 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]