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

Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Cranberry Creek Mound Group (No. 203)

Cranberry Creek Mound Group

Photo by Josh Mayer


Overview

Location

Juneau County. T20N-R4E, Sections 30, 31. 675 acres.

Description

Description

Cranberry Creek Mound Group preserves one of the most significant archeological sites in Wisconsin and one of the largest and best preserved mound complexes in the Upper Midwest. The site contains excellent examples of conical, linear, oval, and effigy mounds built by Native Americans of the Woodland period (ca. 100-800 A.D.). Although the northern cluster has been altered somewhat by plowing, the southern cluster is unaltered. Among the mounds featured are bear/panther mounds and a 50 foot long bird effigy mound with a wingspan of 125 feet. Although the mounds are featured, the site also contains a diversity of natural communities. Along the ditched channel of Cranberry Creek, large river birch and silver and red maples dominate the floodplain forest. Also present is an old-growth northern dry forest with large jack pine and an open pine-oak forest. Since 1917, archaeological investigations of mapping and interpretation have been conducted and the site is part of a larger complex of preserved and protected mounds located in adjacent and nearby areas. Cranberry Creek Mound Group is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1986.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of State Highway 21 and County Highway G east of Necedah, go north on G about 9.8 miles to its junction with County Highway F and 7th Street. Park at the southwest corner of the intersection and walk west along 7th Street into the site. The best mounds are located east of Cranberry Creek, north of the drainage ditch and south of 7th Street. Access also from 8th Street, one mile to the south.

Ownership

Cranberry Creek Mound Group 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 an archaeological protection site, and an oak barrens restoration area. Archaeological features are the primary purpose for protection; management on and around the effigy mounds takes precedence over any other management proposals. Another objective is to provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality effigy mounds and barrens restorations.

Management approach

The Native American effigy mounds are managed according to Department policy and existing state and federal legislation. This especially includes avoiding disturbance of the burial sites with the establishment of a "no disturbance" buffer zone within 15 feet of their perimeter or base. Vegetation on and around these features is generally managed in the same manner as the natural communities within which they occur. However, removal of trees and shrubs from burial areas (without any ground disturbance, e.g., stump pulling or vehicle use) and within the 15-foot buffer zone is generally desirable to protect them from windthrow, and to encourage growth of groundcover that helps prevent erosion. Selected trees may be retained for forestry purposes, or when unavoidable mound damage would occur during tree removal, or for other management purposes. Sites covered by grasses may be periodically mowed, burned and sprayed to maintain existing groundcover and to limit woody succession. The Departmental Archaeologist reviews all proposals for DNR-proposed activities within the buffered burial area. In the oak barrens restoration, the native dominant savanna tree species (primarily oaks with some jack pine) 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. The canopy management and understory manipulation will determine the ecological characteristics of the oak barrens. Other allowable activities across the entire site 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 affects the mounds or inhibits fire prescriptions.

Site-specific considerations

  • Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by the county and township.
  • Site identification sign needs to be maintained.

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: Tuesday, October 21, 2014