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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Squirrel River Pines (No. 244)

Squirrel River Pines

Photo by Eric Epstein


Overview

Location

Oneida County. T39N-R5E, Sections 20, 21, 26, 27, 29, 34, 35, 36. 1,363 acres.

Description

Description

Squirrel River Pines features a fine example of northern dry-mesic forest situated on a narrow, sandy peninsula running northeasterly towards the Squirrel River. The forest is dominated by a stand of old, large red pines in the 16" to 24" diameter size class, with a few trees up to 30" in diameter. White pine make up roughly 10% of the canopy but constitute most of the reproduction. Charring on some of the oldest stumps and snags indicates a fire history and probable origin of this stand. The shrub layer is moderately dense, with beaked hazel and Amelanchier species dominant. The herbaceous and low shrub layer is primarily composed of wintergreen, early low blueberry, velvet-leaf blueberry, and Canada mayflower. Other species include pipsissewa, three-leaved goldthread, round-lobed hepatica, twinflower, and one-sided shinleaf. Surrounding the uplands is a large wetland complex of northern wet forest, northern sedge meadow, and alder thicket associated with the Squirrel River, a slow, warm, hard-water river that flows through the site. The natural area supports a diversity of animals, including characteristic species such as pine warbler, red squirrel, and red-breasted nuthatch. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) have used the pines as a nesting site. Squirrel River Pines is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1991.

Access

Driving directions

To reach the largest stand of pines in the northern unit: from the junction of U.S. Highway 51 and State Highway 70 in Woodruff, go west on Highway 70 about 6.9 miles to Squirrel Lake Road, then south 4.5 miles to Scotchman Lake Road, then east 1.3 miles. The River Run cross country ski trail operated by Minocqua Winter Park intersects Scotchman Lake Road at this point. Park along the road and walk or ski north (not east) along the trail 0.8 miles to the southern boundary of the natural area. Proceed north another 0.25 miles to reach the pines. The southern unit is best accessed by water via the Squirrel River.

Ownership

Squirrel River Pines 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.

Objectives

Site objectives

Manage the site as a northern dry-mesic forest preserve, as an aquatic preserve and wetland protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed understory manipulation (see below) will determine the structure of the forest and associated wetlands. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality dry-mesic forests.

Management approach

The native dominant tree species (primarily pines) are managed passively. However, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. 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, and access to suppress wildfires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event is not considered compatible with management objectives.

Site-specific considerations

  • The Town of Minocqua holds a lease for a cross-country ski trail through the site. Although maintenance of the ski trail to Department standards is allowed, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance within the Natural Area should be minimized to the extent possible.
  • In the peninsula area where the oldest pines grow, cross-country skiing is limited to non-groomed tracks.
  • 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

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

  • Camping and campfires
  • 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
  • Drone use, unless authorized by a SNA research permit
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use

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

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Last revised: Thursday, October 19, 2017