LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.


Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Crex Sand Prairie (No. 32)



Within Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Burnett County. T39N-R18W, Section 7 N½SE¼. 80 acres.



Crex Sand Prairie occupies part of an extensive sand plain that was once glacial Lake Grantsburg and contains a sand prairie representative of the presettlement vegetation once found in northwestern Wisconsin. Upland soils of the Omega series are sandy with very little organic matter. The natural area is a gently rolling, treeless prairie that in the early 1940's was a jack pine-oak forest that had grown up from the barrens during the period of fire suppression. After management activities of tree removal and prescribed burning, the native prairie has recovered and prairie plants have regained dominance. Spring burns maintain this treeless aspect although oak grubs are very common. Grasses such as big and little blue-stem, June grass, and needle grass grow there along with lead-plant, wormwood, sky-blue aster, wild lupine, spiderwort, and prairie larkspur. Breeding birds include large populations of common yellowthroat and clay-colored sparrow. Crex Sand Prairie is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1958.


Driving directions

From Grantsburg go north on County F 7 miles, then east on North Refuge Road 2 miles to the north boundary of the natural area. An overlook located 0.25 mile south on West Refuge Road, which bisects the area, is an excellent place to view the site. This area is a year-round game refuge and no hunting or trapping is allowed (Admin. Code Chapter NR 15). The site is a "No entry wildlife refuge" (Chapter NR 15.02) from September 1-December 3 and is closed to all public use.


Crex Sand 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 dry-mesic prairie reserve and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed fire will determine the structure of the prairie. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native prairies.

Management approach

The native prairie species are managed actively through tree/shrub control using brushing and especially fire to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Occasional fire-tolerant oaks, hickories, and native shrubs such as hazelnut may be retained at low densities. The ecological characteristics of the site will be primarily shaped by an intensive fire management program. 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, parking area and observation tower may be managed sporadically by refuge managers. Manipulation/removal of vegetation and soil disturbance within the Natural Area should be minimized to the extent possible.
  • Year-round game refuge. No hunting or trapping allowed
  • The site is a "No entry wildlife refuge" (Admin. Code Chapter NR 15.02) from September 1-December 3 and is closed to all public use.


Management objectives and prescriptions

  • Read the Glacial Lake Grantsburg Properties Master Plan.


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]

Back to Top

Last revised: Thursday, October 11, 2018