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 Pine Island Savanna (No. 549)

Pine Island Savanna

Photo by



Within the Pine Island Wildlife Area, Columbia County. T12N-R7E, Section 1. T12N-R8E, Sections 5, 6. T13N-R7E, Sections 35, 36. 798 acres.



Situated along the Wisconsin River, Pine Island Savanna features one of the largest floodplain savanna remnants along with several patches of sand prairie. An interior river island supports a floodplain savanna of scattered swamp white oak and an understory comprised of prairie grasses and forbs. Sandy ridges contain black oak and wet swales are vegetated with bottomland species such as silver maple, river birch, and green ash. Both red pine and white pine occur naturally on the island. Common savanna understory species include prairie milkweed, New England aster, white false indigo, prairie coreopsis, wild bergamot, black-eyed susan, Missouri goldenrod, and culver's-root. The site also contains small areas of sand prairie. Pine Island Savanna is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.


Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 16 and 33 in Portage, go west on 33 1 mile, then west on Levee Road 5.7 miles to a boat launch north of the road. Go across the river to the island savanna. Or continue west on Levee Road another 1.5 miles and park. Walk north into the site.


Pine Island Savanna 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 oak opening, sand prairie and floodplain forest, as an aquatic preserve and wetland protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the natural communities represented here, along with prescribed understory manipulation in the savanna (see below). Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality oak openings.

Management approach

The ecological characteristics of the site will be primarily shaped by an intensive fire management program. The native floodplain forest species are managed passively, which allows nature to determine the ecological characteristics of the site. The native 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) 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, 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.


Management objectives and prescriptions


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