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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.

Quincy Bluff

Quincy Bluff and Wetlands is located in the Central Sand Plain ecoregion of Wisconsin, the bed of extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin and features a vast wetland complex with low sandy ridges, wetlands, and seepage ponds situated between sandstone mesas and buttes that rise 100-200 feet. Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

A dozen great State Natural Areas for...paddling, wildflowers, 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.

Our new SNA flyer [PDF] 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!


The forefather of the State Natural Areas System

Cliff Germain

Cliff Germain walks the talk of preserving unique and pristine properties.

"Without Cliff, the State Natural Areas system wouldn’t be what it is today." Germain’s first jobs with DNR’s predecessor agency, the Wisconsin Conservation Department, were as a wildlife researcher and then game manager. He had joined the Conservation Department in 1949 after serving in the U.S. Army in World War II and earning a zoology degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, he studied with conservation giants including Aldo Leopold, ecologist John Curtis and leading plant taxonomist Norman Fassett. They inspired him and instilled in him the land ethic and the importance of Leopold’s admonition that “to keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

Read the full story by Lisa Gaumnitz.


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.

The guidebook map is available for viewing, downloading and printing.

Last revised: Friday, October 26, 2018