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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Scuppernong Prairie (No. 6)

Scuppernong Prairie

Photo by Thomas A. Meyer



Within Southern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest, Waukesha County. T5N-R17E, Sections 8, 16, 17. 173 acres.



Scuppernong Prairie supports a diversity of wet-mesic prairie species on level, poorly-drained ground in the Scuppernong Basin. Located on the east side of the 3,000 acre Scuppernong Marsh, the flora includes big blue-stem, Indian grass, needle grass, blue-joint grass, prairie drop-seed, Virginia mountain mint, cream wild indigo, shooting-star, lead-plant, compass plant, prairie dock, blue-eyed grass, prairie smoke, and prairie blazing-star. On a low rise in the center of the area and along the east boundary are scattered open-grown bur oaks, typical of this region in presettlement times. The large and open nature of the site provides excellent habitat for uncommon grassland birds and butterflies. Scuppernong Prairie is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1952.


Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 67 and 59 in Eagle, go north and west on Highway 59 1 mile, then north on N 1.4 miles to a parking area west of the road.


Scuppernong 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 wet-mesic prairie, southern sedge meadow and oak opening, as a wetland protection site, as a rare plant protection site, and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes and prescribed fire will determine the structure of the wetlands and uplands. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality native prairies, sedge meadows and oak openings.

Management approach

The ecological characteristics of the site will be primarily shaped by an intensive fire management program. The native wetland species are managed actively through tree/shrub control using tree harvest, brushing and especially fire to mimic natural disturbance patterns. Occasional fire-tolerant oaks, hickories, and native shrubs such as steeple bush 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 include control of invasive plants and animals, 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 county.
  • The 185 acre state natural area is divided into two units. The 25 acre Scuppernong Prairie Unit features a wet-mesic prairie (19 acres) and southern sedge meadow (6 acres). The 160 acre Melendy's Prairie Unit contains wet-mesic prairie (45 acres), southern sedge meadow (70 acres), and southern dry forest/oak opening (55 acres).
  • Prairie white-fringed orchid


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