Sign up for our weekly feature on State Natural Areas - direct to your inbox.
- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Spruce Grouse Swamp (No. 540)
Vilas County. T42N-R10E, Sections 23, 26. 400 acres.
Spruce Grouse Swamp is part of an extensive wetland complex southwest of Lac Vieux Desert and features a mosaic of lowland community types including northern sedge meadow, muskeg, black spruce swamp, and tamarack swamp. The surrounding uplands contain a boreal-like dry forest on the low sandy ridges that are found throughout the site. Jack pine with scattered open grown red pine, and black spruce dominate on swamp islands. Aquatic features of interest include Wolf Lake, a small 5-acre bog lake, and a spring fed cold-water stream. The site provides habitat for a number of boreal birds including gray jay, boreal chickadee, black-backed woodpecker, Connecticut warbler, and the state-threatened spruce grouse. Of interest are the reported sightings of the federally endangered Kirtland's warbler in close proximity to this area. Plants include the ragged fringed orchid found growing in a wet pool in one of the large sedge meadows. The interior of the swamp is remote with no major roads present, although a snowmobile trail is heavily used during the winter. This area appears to have been an old glacial lakebed, which eventually drained south into the Wisconsin River. Spruce Grouse Swamp is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.
From the intersection of County K and Highway 45 in Conover, go east on K 2.1 miles, then north on Muskrat Creek Road 2.9 miles, then southwest on Fire Lane Road. Take an immediate right turn on an unmarked road heading west. Follow this road east and north 1.65 miles into the site.
Spruce Grouse Swamp 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 reserve for black spruce swamp and tamarack swamp, as a habitat management site for spruce grouse, as an aquatic reserve and wetland protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the wetlands. Upland forests, primarily jack pine, will be managed to achieve biological maturity prior to a regeneration harvest. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native northern forested wetlands.
The native wetland species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. Upland forest would see a regeneration harvest approximately once every 75 years. Other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress fires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event is not considered compatible with management objectives.
- 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.
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]