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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Sohlberg Silver Lake (No. 166)

Sohlberg Silver Lake

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer



Adams County. T16N-R5E, Sections 4, 9. T17N-R5E, Section 33. 308 acres.



Sohlberg Silver Lake features a small seepage lake nestled in a landscape of undulating topography with low wooded hills and scattered open bogs and tamarack swamps. Situated in the bed of now extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin, the shallow lake has very soft, alkaline water and is moderately transparent. The fluctuating shoreline is dependent upon the local water table and the lake occupies anywhere from 7 to 16 acres depending on annual precipitation. These seasonal and yearly fluctuations maintain the sandy and muck shores in a relatively open condition that harbor several rare plants more commonly found along the Atlantic coastal plain. On the sandy shores and mud flats occur other uncommon species including autumn sedge, golden-pert, beak rushes, lowland rotala, and yellow-eyed-grass. On the adjacent uplands grows an even-aged dry forest of scrubby oak and jack pine while surrounding lowlands contain a sphagnum moss and sedge bog with cotton grass and leather-leaf and a tamarack swamp forest with huckleberry and low-bush blueberry. Bird use is varied and dependent upon the local water level. While the surrounding uplands attract many breeding birds, migratory bird use by species such as sandpipers and other shorebirds varies seasonally with the amount of exposed mudflats available for foraging. Sohlberg Silver Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1980.


Driving directions

From the intersection of State Highway 13 and County Highway M in Adams, go south on 13 1.9 miles, then west on County F 4.8 miles, then south on 18th Avenue 2.1 miles. Park at the end of the road and walk east 0.5 mile to the lake.


Sohlberg Silver 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 an oak barrens and coastal plain marsh reserve, as an aquatic preserve and wetland protection area, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the natural communities of this site, along with prescribed vegetation manipulation in the wetlands and savanna (see below). Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native oak barrens and coastal plain marshes.

Management approach

The native coastal plain marsh species are maintained by fluctuating water levels, although persistent low water may require limited tree cutting to maintain the open marsh. The ecological characteristics of the barrens will be primarily shaped by a fire management program. The native dominant savanna tree species (primarily oaks) are managed passively. However, some thinning of the canopy, understory manipulation and shrub control via harvest, brushing or fire may be needed to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Augmentation of the ground layer will only add species that historically would have been found on the site, using seeds or plugs from local genetic material; this usually occurs in the early stages of restoration. The mostly passive canopy management and understory manipulation will determine the ecological characteristics of the savanna. Other allowable activities throughout the site include control of invasive plants and animals, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress wildfires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event can occur if the volume of woody material inhibits fire prescriptions.

Site-specific considerations

  • The pine plantation will be thinned and harvested, and conversion to oak barrens will be promoted.
  • Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by township.
  • The service road is used for hiking as part of a segment of the Ice Age Trail. Although removal of hazardous trees from over and near trails is an allowed activity, manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance should be minimized to the extent possible.


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: Friday, July 06, 2018