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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 402,000 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.

Eureka Maple Woods SNA

Fall colors glow at Eureka Maple Woods in Monroe County. The forest lies on a steep, north-facing slope above Timber Coulee Creek, a tributary of Coon Creek. Small to medium sized sugar maple and basswood dominate the woods. Photo by Thomas Meyer.

Small paddles, big rewards: paddling WI State Natural Areas

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.

Donation helps rare boreal forest grow by 75%

Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands State Natural Area contains a unique and diverse landscape, influenced by the local climate along the northeastern coast of the Door Peninsula. Cooler springs and summers, warmer falls and winters, and reduced evaporation rates have allowed northern species and a boreal forest to thrive here, far south of their normal range.

Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest

Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest & Wetlands SNA. Photo: Thomas Meyer.

This past July, the SNA expanded by 75% in size when the state chapter of The Nature Conservancy donated a 362-acre parcel to the people of Wisconsin. This generous gift is valued at more than $1.4 million.

Read the full article on Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest in the fall issue of DNR's Natural Resources magazine.

SNA Volunteer Steward of the Year 2019: Mary Kay Baum

Steward of the Year

Jared Urban (DNR) and Mary Kay Baum

Mary Kay Baum - a well-known community organizer, lawyer, school board member, county board member, ordained minister and one-time mayoral candidate in southern Wisconsin - has earned another title: 2019 Steward of the Year for her work caring for a remnant pine forest surviving from the Ice Age.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources State Natural Areas Volunteer Program recognized Baum for her work at Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area in Iowa County during an annual volunteer picnic in late August.

Read the full story in the DNR news. Learn how to volunteer and help care for SNAs.

A dozen great State Natural Areas for fall colors and more!

paddle guide cover

Clickable SNA flyer

State Natural Areas protect the very best of Wisconsin's native landscapes, including colorful prairies, old-growth forests, wild lakes and sugar maple woods.

Checkout the SNA flyer [PDF] that features six groups of twelve SNAs to help you find great sites for paddling, hiking among spring wildflowers or big trees, viewing autumn colors and geological wonders, and discovering butterflies and grassland birds.

Just open the flyer and then click on an SNA name.
Get out and enjoy!

Exploring State Natural Areas

In this short video, learn about the SNA program that protects outstanding native landscapes throughout Wisconsin. Natural areas provide unique places for low-impact recreation, including hiking and fishing. Hunting is also allowed on most DNR-owned sites.

State Natural Areas guidebook

The SNA guidebook, Wisconsin naturally, is now out-of-print. We apologize for any inconvenience.

A statewide map showing all SNAs is available for viewing, downloading and printing.

Last revised: Wednesday, October 23, 2019