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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Ipswich Prairie (No. 195)

Ipswich Prairie

Photo by E. Epstein



Lafayette and Grant Counties. T3N-R1E, Sections 30, 31. T3N-R1W, Section 36. 18 acres.



Ipswich Prairie protects the largest remnant of deep-soil mesic prairie that once occurred in southwestern Wisconsin. This long, narrow stretch of mesic to dry-mesic prairie borders an old railroad right-of-way on the gently rolling topography of Wisconsin's Driftless Area. Historically, the occasional railroad fires caused by passing trains unintentionally preserved the prairie. Today, the prairie is maintained by regularly prescribed burning and brushing and the site contains a moderately rich prairie flora with over 125 species. Some of the common species include big blue-stem, Indian grass, needle grass, lead-plant, rattlesnake master, stiff coreopsis, and rough blazing-star. Other species include blue-eyed grass, pale spike lobelia, downy gentian, and wood lily. The prairie supports numerous colonies of mound building ant, Formica cinerea. Ipswich Prairie is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1985.


Driving directions

From the intersection of U.S. Highway 151 and State Highway 80 in Platteville, go south on 80 3 miles, then east on Center Drive Rd 0.25 mile, then north on Ipswich Road 0.5 mile to the south end of the natural area, which parallels the road northeasterly for 1.2 miles.


Ipswich Prairie 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 mesic prairie restoration site. Natural processes and prescribed fire will determine the structure of the prairie. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native mesic prairies.

Management approach

The native prairie species are managed actively through tree/shrub control using tree harvest, brushing and especially fire to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Occasional native shrubs such as New Jersey tea and Iowa crab apple may be retained at low densities. Other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, augmentation of native prairie species after careful review, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress wildfires.

Site-specific considerations

  • Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by township.


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