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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Whitman Bottoms Floodplain Forest (No. 173)

Whitman Bottoms Floodplain Forest

Photo by Randy Hoffman

Resource links:

Whitman Dam Wildlife Area



Within Whitman Dam Wildlife Area, Buffalo County. T20N-R12W, Section 34. 164 acres.



Whitman Bottoms Floodplain Forest contains a mature floodplain forest, a section of Indian Creek, and a large heron rookery. Dominants in the floodplain forest are silver maple and river birch in the canopy; poison ivy, grape, common moonseed, woodbine and wild yam as vines; and wood nettle in the herbaceous layer. Also present are American elm, swamp white oak, green ash, and prickly ash. An established and well-studied rookery of herons and egrets contains about 500 nests and is one of the largest in the state. Cavity-nesting bird species are very well represented and include seven species of woodpeckers. Indian Creek meanders through the natural area; the fishery is quite diverse, including some 62 species. Whitman Bottoms Floodplain Forest is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1982.


Driving directions

From the intersection of Highway 35 and Kamrowski Road, just north of Merrick State Park, go northwest on Kamrowski Road 1.8 miles, then west on a dirt lane marked as a boat landing to a parking lot. Canoe downstream to the area.


Whitman Bottoms Floodplain Forest 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 floodplain forest reserve, an aquatic reserve, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the forest and stream. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native floodplain forests.

Management approach

The native species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. Exceptions 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.

Site-specific considerations

  • This site formerly harbored a large rookery of herons and egrets. If another rookery is established, a 500-foot buffer zone will be posted and public access will be restricted during the summer nesting season.


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
  • Drone use, unless authorized by a SNA research permit
  • 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, December 15, 2017