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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Hogback Prairie (No. 334)

Hogback Prairie

Photo by Thomas Meyer



Northern units are within the Kickapoo River Wildlife Area - Bell Center Unit, Crawford County. T8N-R4W, Sections 4, 5, 6. T9N-R4W, Sections 4, 5, 9, 10, 31, 32, 33. 1,192 acres.



Hogback Prairie is situated on an impressive geological formation - a narrow, steep-sided limestone-capped ridge that rises 300' above the Citron Valley, a former oxbow of the nearby Kickapoo River. The hogback's western and eastern slopes support dry prairie vegetation from the ridge's crest down to its bases. There is also a small segment of north-facing prairie. The multiple aspects of the prairie have resulted in an unusual mix of plants, blending typical dry prairie species such as side oats grama, little blue-stem, purple prairie-clover and hoary vervain with species such as needle grass and mountain mint that are more characteristic of moister prairies. The aspect variability has also contributed to the existence of excellent populations of the many rare plants and animals found here. To the south the ridge widens and the prairie grades into oak woods and an overgrown savanna with several savanna indicator plant species. Management activities such as controlled burning and brush removal are helping restore the integrity of the savanna and prairie. The terrain is steep and chiggers are abundant - take necessary precautions. Hogback Prairie is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2002.


Driving directions

From the intersection of State Highway 179 and Bridge Street in Steuben, go north on Bridge Street 0.2 miles, then west and north on Hughes Road 2.1 miles, then west on Citron Valley Road 0.25 miles. Park along the road and walk west into the natural area.


Hogback 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 reserve for dry prairie and oak opening, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed fire will determine the structure of the site's natural communities. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native prairies and oak openings.

Management approach

The ecological characteristics of the site will be primarily shaped by an intensive fire management program. The native dry prairie species are managed actively through tree/shrub control using tree harvest, brushing and especially fire to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Occasional fire-tolerant woody species such as oaks, hickories, and native shrubs such as hazelnut may be retained at low densities. The native dominant savanna tree species (primarily oaks) form the basis for an oak savanna restoration along with old field, which can be restored to mesic prairie. 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. Other allowable activities throughout the site include control of invasive plants and animals, augmentation of native prairie species after careful review, 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

  • Roadside easement area may be managed sporadically by township.
  • Utility corridor management occurs sporadically within the utility easement area.
  • Former building sites will be restored to native prairie using locally collected seed.


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, October 26, 2018