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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Bean Lake (No. 111)

Poison sumac

Photo by Joshua Mayer



Within Lake Mills Wildlife Area, Jefferson County. T7N-R13E, Section 22. 198 acres.



Bean Lake is a 33-acre alkaline seepage lake surrounded by tamarack and shrub swamp. Maximum depth is 6 feet, and the bottom substrate is poorly decomposed brown and black peat. The water is usually turbid and supports algal blooms; yellow pond-lily is the most common macrophyte. Surrounding the lake is a narrow zone of swamp loosestrife with cat-tails, sedges, and soft stem bulrush on the northeast edge. Tamarack and shrub-carr of dogwood, bog birch, poison sumac, and willows surround the lake and encompass the entire area to the edge of Rock Lake. Along the northeast edge of the lake are two small upland islands forested with deciduous hardwoods. Within the swamp surrounding the lake there are few characteristic bog species. Bird species nesting within the natural area include green-backed herons, wood duck, mallard, blue-winged teal, sandhill crane, great horned owl, and long-eared owl. Bean Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1973.


Driving directions

From the intersection of County Highways B and S west of Lake Mills, proceed south on S, 2.3 miles, then east on Bean Lake Road to a parking lot at the southwest corner of the site. Walk north on the old road and trail, which leads to the lake.


Bean Lake is owned by:

  • WDNR


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.


Site objectives

Manage the site as a reserve for southern dry-mesic forest and southern tamarack swamp (rich). Also manage the site as an aquatic reserve, a wetland protection site, an ecological reference area, and a significant archaeological site. Natural processes, in addition to prescribed understory manipulation in the southern dry-mesic forest, will determine the structure of the natural communities represented on this site. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native ecosystems.

Management approach

In southern dry-mesic forest areas, the native dominant tree species (primarily oaks) 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 southern dry-mesic forest. In all other areas, the native species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine their ecological characteristics. Allowable activities across the entire site 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. Archaeological sites and historic structures are managed according to Department policy and existing state and federal legislation. This especially includes avoiding disturbance of the burial sites with the establishment of a "no disturbance" buffer zone within 15 feet of their perimeter or base. Vegetation on and around these features is generally managed in the same manner as the natural communities within which they occur. However, removal of trees and shrubs from burial areas (without any ground disturbance, e.g., stump pulling or vehicle use) and within the 15-foot buffer zone is generally desirable to protect them from windthrow, and to encourage growth of groundcover that helps prevent erosion. Selected trees may be retained for forestry purposes, or when unavoidable mound damage would occur during tree removal, or for other management purposes. Sites covered by grasses may be periodically mowed, burned and sprayed to maintain existing groundcover and to limit woody succession. The Departmental Archaeologist reviews all proposals for DNR-proposed activities within the buffered burial area.


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
  • 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 11, 2018