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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
State Natural Areas Program

State Natural Areas Program

SNA Program logo

State natural areas (SNAs) protect outstanding examples of Wisconsin's native landscape of natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites. Encompassing 406,000 acres on lands owned by the state and its many partners, including land trusts, local and county governments, and private citizens, Wisconsin's natural areas are valuable for research and educational use, the preservation of genetic and biological diversity and for providing benchmarks for determining the impact of use on managed lands. They also provide some of the last refuges for rare plants and animals.

Spring at Tellock's Hill Woods

Tellock's Hill Woods is an old-growth northern mesic forest on the north-facing slope of a drumlin. The drumlin, a hill with a streamlined ovoid shape formed by advancing glacial ice, has an unusual sandstone core exposed in a deep ravine. Photo by Thomas Meyer.

70 years of State Natural Areas

Beulah Bog SNA

Beulah Bog SNA. Photo by Thomas Meyer.

The SNA Program celebrates 70 years in 2021, making it the nation’s oldest statewide system of natural areas. It also is the largest — nearly 700 jewels sparkling across Wisconsin with the sole statutory purpose of saving for now and future generations a living record of diverse prairies, forests wetlands and other natural communities in the state. The summer issue of DNR's Natural Resources magazine examines the system 70 years after its creation by the state legislature and as climate change, invasive species, development and other threats challenge the sites. Read the entire article.


Ready, set, paddle! Enjoy Wisconsin's State Natural Areas by water

A number of State Natural Areas preserve wild lakes and stream stretches that you can explore by canoe or kayak. Take a look at these 12 easy, water-based trips to SNAs that offer a few hours of peaceful paddling in places that celebrate Wisconsin’s natural heritage.

Launch the paddle guide story map or download a printable version.

Blackjack Springs SNA

Paddling in Blackjack Springs State Natural Area.


The Lower Wisconsin Riverway, a global gem

View of the Lower Wisconsin River from Ferry Bluff SNA

View of the Lower Wisconsin River from Ferry Bluff SNA.

The Lower Wisconsin Riverway was recognized as as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance through a designation process spearheaded by the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. Two dozen sites along the riverway have been designated as State Natural Areas and are open for low-impact activities including hiking, birdwatching, photography and hunting and fishing.

Launch the interactive story map for more details.


New PBS Wisconsin Program Spotlights State Natural Areas and State Parks

PBS spotlight

Photo credit: Wisconsin PBS

“Wisconsin’s Scenic Treasures: Southern Vistas", a new hour-long documentary featuring several beautiful and fascinating State Natural Areas is now available to stream on-demand.

Filmed by PBS Wisconsin last summer from the air, land and water, the program showcases SNAs, state parks, wildlife areas, state forests and other natural places in southern Wisconsin. After premiering on PBS stations in March 2021, the program can now be viewed on the free PBS app on phones, tablets, Roku and other streaming devices. Go to the PBS Wisconsin website to watch the program, view a map of the locations featured in the film, and see a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos. You can watch a short trailer here.



Last revised: Monday, June 14, 2021