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Central Sand Hills Ecological Landscape

Download the Central Sand Hills chapter [PDF] of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin. This chapter provides a detailed assessment of the ecological and socioeconomic conditions for the Central Sand Hills. It also identifies important planning and management considerations and suggests management opportunities that are compatible with the ecology of the landscape. The tabs below provide additional information.

Landscape at a Glance

Physical & Biotic Environment


1,388,705 acres (2,170 square miles), representing 3.9 % of the land area of the State of Wisconsin.


Typical of south central Wisconsin; mean growing season of 144 days, mean annual temperature is 44.8 deg. F, average January minimum temperature is 4deg. F, average August maximum temperature is 81deg. F, mean annual precipitation is 33 inches, mean annual snowfall is 44 inches. Although the climate is suitable for agricultural row crops, small grains, and pastures, the sandy soils somewhat limit agricultural potential.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]


Bedrock exposures are limited but include Precambrian rhyolite bluffs, and a vertical exposure of Ordovician St. Peter sandstone with a thin dolomite cap at Gibraltar Rock in Columbia County.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]

Geology & Landforms

The landforms in this Ecological Landscape include a series of glacial moraines (the Johnstown Moraine is the terminal moraine of the Green Bay lobe; the Arnott Moraine is older, and has more subdued topography. Pitted outwash is extensive in some areas. Glacial tunnel channels occur here, e.g., in Waushara County, just east of and visible from I-39.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]


Soils are primarily sands. Organic soils underlie wetlands such as tamarack swamps and sedge meadows. Muck farming still occurs in some areas.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]


Mosaic of extensive wetlands and small kettle lakes in the outwash areas, and the headwaters of coldwater streams originating in glacial moraines. Some seepage lakes and ponds exhibit dramatic natural water level fluctuations which create important Inland Beach and Coastal Plain Marsh habitats. The Wisconsin River and a short but ecologically important stretch of the lower Baraboo River flow through this Ecological Landscape. Other important rivers include the Fox, Grand, Mecan, Montello, Puchyan, and White. Large impoundments occur on the Wisconsin (Lake Wisconsin), Fox (Buffalo and Puckaway lakes) and Grand (Grand River Marsh) rivers.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]

Current Landcover

Current vegetation is more than one-third agricultural crops, one third forest, and almost 20% grasslands with smaller amounts of open wetland, open water, shrubs, unvegetated (termed "barren" in WISCLAND), and urban areas. Large contiguous areas of any of the major natural or surrogate vegetation types are uncommon.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]

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Socioeconomic Conditions
(based on data from Portage, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake, and Columbia. counties)


182,035, 3.2% of the state total

Population Density

59 persons/ sq. mile

Per Capita Income


Important Economic Sectors

The largest employment sectors in 2007 were: Government (13.2% vs. 12.1% statewide); Tourism-related (12.6% vs. 11.2%), Manufacturing (non-wood) (12.0% vs. 11.7%) and Health care & social services (9.4% vs. 10.7%).

Public Ownership

Scattered Federal Waterfowl Production Areas, Fox River National Wildlife Refuge, scattered state-owned and managed lands, including Hartman Creek State Park, several State Wildlife Areas, Fisheries Areas, and Natural Areas. A map showing public land ownership (county, state, and federal) and private lands enrolled in the Forest Tax Programs in this Ecological Landscape can be found at the end of this chapter.

Other Notable Ownerships

The Nature Conservancy has been active in this Ecological Landscape, with projects at sites that include Summerton Bog and Page Creek Marsh.

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Considerations for Planning & Management

Important concerns and considerations in the Central Sand Hills include the fragmentation and isolation of major habitats, groundwater withdrawals, ground and surface water contamination, hydrologic disruption due to ditching and diking, fire suppression and the loss of fire-dependent habitats and species, shoreline development, and the introduction and spread of invasive species. Poor water quality exists in some lakes and impoundments. Ground water contamination is also an issue in this Ecological Landscape. Excessive groundwater withdrawals could have serious negative consequences in areas supporting coldwater streams and seepage lakes, and within the recharge areas of groundwater-dependent natural communities such as Coastal Plain Marsh, Calcareous Fen, Tamarack Swamp, and Southern Sedge Meadow. Fire suppression has altered successional pathways that maintained savannas, prairies and other fire-adapted or dependent vegetation.  Learn more about management opportunities from the chapter [PDF]

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Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

The following species are listed according to their probability of occurring in the Central Sand Hills Ecological Landscape, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

See the key to association scores [PDF] for complete definitions.

Four-toed SalamanderHemidactylium scutatum2
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris2
Blanchard's Cricket FrogAcris blanchardi1

Ants, wasps, and beesScore
A Cuckoo BeeEpeolus ainsliei1
American Bumble BeeBombus pensylvanicus1
An Anthophorid BeeNeolarra vigilans1
Confusing Bumble BeeBombus perplexus1
Yellow Bumble BeeBombus fervidus1
Yellowbanded Bumble BeeBombus terricola1

Aquatic and terrestrial snailsScore
Six-whorl VertigoVertigo morsei2

A Burrowing Water BeetleHydrocanthus iricolor3
A Minute Moss BeetleOchthebius lineatus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleCybister fimbriolatus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleColymbetes exaratus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleIlybius gagates3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleHygrotus farctus3
A Riffle BeetleStenelmis fuscata3
A Riffle BeetleStenelmis antennalis3
A Straight-snouted WeevilEutrichapion huron3
A Water Scavenger BeetleHelophorus latipenis3
A Water Scavenger BeetleCymbiodyta toddi3
Cantrall's Bog BeetleLiodessus cantralli3
Douglas Stenelmis Riffle BeetleStenelmis douglasensis3
Ghost Tiger BeetleEllipsoptera lepida3
Hairy-necked Tiger BeetleCicindela hirticollis hirticollis3
Sandy Stream Tiger BeetleEllipsoptera macra3
Sylvan Hygrotus Diving BeetleHygrotus sylvanus3
A Water Scavenger BeetleAgabetes acuductus2
Robust Dubiraphian Riffle BeetleDubiraphia robusta2
A Leaf BeetlePachybrachis peccans1
A Leaf BeetlePachybrachis luridus1
A Leaf BeetleCryptocephalus cuneatus1
A Leaf BeetleGlyptina leptosoma1
A Leaf BeetleGlyptina brunnea1
A Leaf BeetleDistigmoptera impennata1
A Pear-shaped WeevilFallapion bischoffi1
A Pear-shaped WeevilTrichapion perforicolle1
A Pear-shaped WeevilFallapion impeditum1
A Pear-shaped WeevilSayapion segnipes1
Virginia Big-headed Tiger BeetleTetracha virginica1

American BitternBotaurus lentiginosus3
American WoodcockScolopax minor3
Black TernChlidonias niger3
BobolinkDolichonyx oryzivorus3
Cerulean WarblerSetophaga cerulea3
DickcisselSpiza americana3
Eastern MeadowlarkSturnella magna3
Eastern Whip-poor-willAntrostomus vociferus3
Forster's TernSterna forsteri3
Grasshopper SparrowAmmodramus savannarum3
Henslow's SparrowAmmodramus henslowii3
Least FlycatcherEmpidonax minimus3
Northern BobwhiteColinus virginianus3
Red-shouldered HawkButeo lineatus3
Vesper SparrowPooecetes gramineus3
Western MeadowlarkSturnella neglecta3
Whooping CraneGrus americana3
Black-crowned Night-HeronNycticorax nycticorax2
Brewer's BlackbirdEuphagus cyanocephalus2
Common NighthawkChordeiles minor2
Golden-winged WarblerVermivora chrysoptera2
Lark SparrowChondestes grammacus2
Le Conte's SparrowAmmodramus leconteii2
Least BitternIxobrychus exilis2
Purple MartinProgne subis2
Red-headed WoodpeckerMelanerpes erythrocephalus2
Rusty BlackbirdEuphagus carolinus2
Short-eared OwlAsio flammeus2
Upland SandpiperBartramia longicauda2
Yellow RailCoturnicops noveboracensis2
Yellow-headed BlackbirdXanthocephalus xanthocephalus2
Acadian FlycatcherEmpidonax virescens1
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanus1
Greater Prairie-ChickenTympanuchus cupido1
Loggerhead ShrikeLanius ludovicianus1
Long-eared OwlAsio otus1
Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilis1
Prothonotary WarblerProtonotaria citrea1
Yellow-breasted ChatIcteria virens1

Butterflies and mothsScore
Karner BlueLycaeides melissa samuelis3
Gorgone Checker SpotChlosyne gorgone2
Swamp MetalmarkCalephelis muticum2
Abbreviated Underwing MothCatocala abbreviatella1
Bina Flower MothSchinia bina1
Cross Line SkipperPolites origenes1
Frosted ElfinCallophrys irus1
Gray CopperLycaena dione1
Leadplant Flower MothSchinia lucens1
Midwestern Fen BuckmothHemileuca nevadensis ssp. 31
Owl-eyed Bird Dropping MothCerma cora1
Persius Dusky WingErynnis persius1
Phyllira Tiger MothGrammia phyllira1
Regal FritillarySpeyeria idalia1
Silphium Borer MothPapaipema silphii1
Sprague's PygarcticaPygarctia spraguei1
Whitney's Underwing MothCatocala whitneyi1

A CaddisflyPsilotreta indecisa3
A Lepidostomatid CaddisflyLepidostoma vernale3

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Lilypad ForktailIschnura kellicotti3
Spatterdock DarnerRhionaeschna mutata3
Clamp-tipped EmeraldSomatochlora tenebrosa1
Delta-spotted SpiketailCordulegaster diastatops1
Incurvate EmeraldSomatochlora incurvata1
Mottled DarnerAeshna clepsydra1
Plains EmeraldSomatochlora ensigera1
Pronghorn ClubtailGomphus graslinellus1
Ringed BoghaunterWilliamsonia lintneri1
Sioux (Sand) SnaketailOphiogomphus smithi1
Smoky RubyspotHetaerina titia1
Spangled SkimmerLibellula cyanea1
Springwater DancerArgia plana1
Swamp DarnerEpiaeschna heros1
Unicorn ClubtailArigomphus villosipes1

Black BuffaloIctiobus niger3
Blue SuckerCycleptus elongatus3
Lake SturgeonAcipenser fulvescens3
PaddlefishPolyodon spathula3
Shoal ChubMacrhybopsis hyostoma3
Least DarterEtheostoma microperca2
Mud DarterEtheostoma asprigene2
American EelAnguilla rostrata1
GoldeyeHiodon alosoides1
Lake ChubsuckerErimyzon sucetta1
Longear SunfishLepomis megalotis1
Pugnose ShinerNotropis anogenus1
Redfin ShinerLythrurus umbratilis1
River RedhorseMoxostoma carinatum1

Grasshoppers and alliesScore
Club-horned GrasshopperAeropedellus clavatus3
Ash-brown GrasshopperTrachyrhachys kiowa2
Blue-legged GrasshopperMelanoplus flavidus2
Clear-winged GrasshopperCamnula pellucida2
Gladston's Spur-throat GrasshopperMelanoplus gladstoni2
Huckleberry Spur-throat GrasshopperMelanoplus fasciatus2
Rocky Mountain Sprinkled LocustChloealtis abdominalis2
Speckled Rangeland GrasshopperArphia conspersa2
Spotted-winged GrasshopperOrphulella pelidna2
Stone's LocustMelanoplus stonei2
A Spur-throat GrasshopperMelanoplus foedus1
Black-striped KatydidScudderia fasciata1
Bog ConeheadNeoconocephalus lyristes1
Delicate Meadow KatydidOrchelimum delicatum1
Forest LocustMelanoplus islandicus1
Green-streak GrasshopperHesperotettix viridis1
Grizzly Spur-throat GrasshopperMelanoplus punctulatus1
Handsome GrasshopperSyrbula admirabilis1
Mermiria GrasshopperMermiria bivittata1
Obscure GrasshopperOpeia obscura1
Scudder's Short-winged GrasshopperMelanoplus scudderi1
Seaside GrasshopperTrimerotropis maritima1
Short-winged GrasshopperDichromorpha viridis1
Velvet-striped GrasshopperEritettix simplex1

Leafhoppers and true bugsScore
A LeafhopperLimotettix pseudosphagneticus3
A Water StriderNeogerris hesione3
A LeafhopperParaphlepsius altus2
A LeafhopperPrairiana cinerea2
A LeafhopperPrairiana kansana2
Red-tailed Prairie LeafhopperAflexia rubranura2
A LeafhopperMemnonia panzeri1
A LeafhopperDriotura robusta1
A LeafhopperCuerna sayi1
A LeafhopperLaevicephalus vannus1
A LeafhopperParaphlepsius maculosus1
A LeafhopperPrairiana angustens1
A LeafhopperLimotettix elegans1
A PlanthopperMyndus ovatus1
A Seed BugSlaterobius quadristriata1
An Issid PlanthopperBruchomorpha extensa1
Piglet BugAphelonema simplex1
Prairie LeafhopperPolyamia dilata1
Yellow Loosestrife LeafhopperErythroneura carbonata1

Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus3
Franklin's Ground SquirrelPoliocitellus franklinii3
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus3
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Prairie Deer MousePeromyscus maniculatus bairdii2
Prairie VoleMicrotus ochrogaster2
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans2
Water ShrewSorex palustris2
Eastern PipistrellePerimyotis subflavus1
Northern Flying SquirrelGlaucomys sabrinus1
Woodland Jumping MouseNapaeozapus insignis1
Woodland VoleMicrotus pinetorum1

A MayflyAmeletus lineatus2
A Small Minnow MayflyParacloeodes minutus2
Fox Small Square-gilled MayflyCercobrachys fox2
A Brush-legged MayflyHomoeoneuria ammophila1
A Common Burrower MayflyPentagenia vittigera1
Pecatonica River MayflyAcanthametropus pecatonica1
Winnebago Small Square-gilled MayflyCercobrachys winnebago1

Mussels and clamsScore
BuckhornTritogonia verrucosa2
Salamander MusselSimpsonaias ambigua2
SheepnosePlethobasus cyphyus2
Elephant EarElliptio crassidens1
ElktoeAlasmidonta marginata1
FawnsfootTruncilla donaciformis1
MapleleafQuadrula quadrula1
MonkeyfaceTheliderma metanevra1
Slippershell MusselAlasmidonta viridis1
Yellow & Slough SandshellsLampsilis teres1

Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii3
Ornate Box TurtleTerrapene ornata3
Slender Glass LizardOphisaurus attenuatus3
Smooth SoftshellApalone mutica3
North American RacerColuber constrictor2
Eastern MassasaugaSistrurus catenatus1
Eastern RibbonsnakeThamnophis sauritus1
GophersnakePituophis catenifer1
Timber RattlesnakeCrotalus horridus1
Western RibbonsnakeThamnophis proximus1
Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta1

A Rolled-winged Winter StoneflyZealeuctra narfi3

Rare plants

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Scores: 3 = "significantly associated," 2 = "moderately associated," and 1 = "minimally associated."

Scientific Name Common Name Score
Asclepias lanuginosa Woolly Milkweed 3
Carex merritt-fernaldii Fernald's Sedge 3
Carex sychnocephala Many-headed Sedge 3
Fuirena pumila Dwarf Umbrella Sedge 3
Opuntia fragilis Brittle Prickly-pear 3
Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea Fassett's Locoweed 3
Platanthera flava var. herbiola Pale Green Orchid 3
Rhynchospora scirpoides Long-beaked Bald-rush 3
Ammannia robusta Scarlet Loosestrife 2
Asclepias hirtella Green Milkweed 2
Baptisia tinctoria Yellow Wild-indigo 2
Carex albicans var. albicans Dry Woods Sedge 2
Carex livida Livid Sedge 2
Carex lupuliformis False Hop Sedge 2
Catabrosa aquatica Brook Grass 2
Cuscuta polygonorum Knotweed Dodder 2
Cypripedium candidum White Lady's-slipper 2
Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper 2
Diodia teres Rough Buttonweed 2
Drosera linearis Linear-leaved Sundew 2
Eleocharis compressa var. compressa Flat-stemmed Spike-rush 2
Eleocharis engelmannii Engelmann's Spike-rush 2
Eleocharis flavescens var. olivacea Capitate Spike-rush 2
Eleocharis robbinsii Robbins' Spike-rush 2
Galium brevipes Swamp Bedstraw 2
Gymnocarpium jessoense ssp. parvulum Northern Oak Fern 2
Juglans cinerea Butternut 2
Lespedeza virginica Slender Bush Clover 2
Muhlenbergia richardsonis Mat Muhly 2
Myosotis laxa Small Forget-me-not 2
Nothocalais cuspidata Prairie False-dandelion 2
Pellaea atropurpurea Purple-stem Cliff-brake 2
Penstemon hirsutus Hairy Beardtongue 2
Phemeranthus rugospermus Prairie Fame-flower 2
Rhexia virginica Virginia Meadow-beauty 2
Rhus aromatica Fragrant Sumac 2
Rotala ramosior Toothcup 2
Salix sericea Silky Willow 2
Schoenoplectus heterochaetus Slender Bulrush 2
Scirpus georgianus Georgia Bulrush 2
Scleria triglomerata Whip Nutrush 2
Scleria verticillata Low Nutrush 2
Silene virginica Fire Pink 2
Symphyotrichum dumosum var. strictior Bushy Aster 2
Triantha glutinosa False Asphodel 2
Trichophorum cespitosum Tufted Bulrush 2
Arnoglossum reniforme Great Indian-plantain 1
Asclepias ovalifolia Dwarf Milkweed 1
Asclepias purpurascens Purple Milkweed 1
Asplenium trichomanes Maidenhair Spleenwort 1
Carex gracilescens Slender Sedge 1
Cirsium hillii Hill's Thistle 1
Coreopsis lanceolata Sand Coreopsis 1
Desmodium perplexum Perplexed Tick-trefoil 1
Diarrhena obovata Ovate Beak Grass 1
Eleocharis quinqueflora Few-flowered Spike-rush 1
Epilobium strictum Downy Willow-herb 1
Homalosorus pycnocarpos Glade Fern 1
Juncus marginatus Grassleaf Rush 1
Juncus vaseyi Vasey's Rush 1
Lespedeza leptostachya Prairie Bush Clover 1
Malaxis monophyllos var. brachypoda White Adder's-mouth 1
Najas gracillima Thread-like Naiad 1
Nuphar advena Yellow Water Lily 1
Poa paludigena Bog Bluegrass 1
Polytaenia nuttallii Prairie Parsley 1
Primula mistassinica Bird's-eye Primrose 1
Sisyrinchium albidum White Blue-eyed-grass 1
Strophostyles leiosperma Small-flowered Woolly Bean 1
Stuckenia filiformis ssp. alpina Northern Slender Pondweed 1
Sullivantia sullivantii Sullivant's Cool-wort 1
Triglochin palustris Slender Bog Arrow-grass 1
Utricularia resupinata Northeastern Bladderwort 1
Valeriana edulis var. ciliata Hairy Valerian 1

Community opportunities

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community management opportunities

The Central Sand Hills Ecological Landscape contains opportunities to manage for the following natural communities, based on the findings in the 2015 Wildlife Action Plan (originally presented by the Ecosystem Management Team).

See the key to association scores [PDF] for complete definitions.

Natural Community Type Opportunity
Calcareous FenMajor
Central Sands Pine - Oak ForestMajor
Coastal Plain MarshMajor
Coldwater streamsMajor
Emergent MarshMajor
Floating-leaved MarshMajor
Lacustrine Mud FlatMajor
Northern Tamarack SwampMajor
Northern Wet ForestMajor
Shrub CarrMajor
Southern Dry ForestMajor
Southern Sedge MeadowMajor
Submergent MarshMajor
Warmwater riversMajor
Wet-mesic PrairieMajor
Alder ThicketImportant
Bedrock GladeImportant
Black Spruce SwampImportant
Bog RelictImportant
Coolwater streamsImportant
Dry PrairieImportant
Floodplain ForestImportant
Inland BeachImportant
Large Lake--deep, hard, seepageImportant
Large Lake--deep, soft+, seepageImportant
Large Lake--shallow, hard, seepageImportant
Large Lake--shallow, hard+, drainageImportant
Large Lake--shallow, soft, seepageImportant
Moist CliffImportant
Moist Sandy MeadowImportant
Northern Hardwood SwampImportant
Northern Sedge MeadowImportant
Oak BarrensImportant
Open BogImportant
Pine BarrensImportant
Poor FenImportant
Riverine Lake - PondImportant
Riverine Mud FlatImportant
Sand PrairieImportant
Small Lake--hard, bogImportant
Small Lake--otherImportant
Small Lake--soft, bogImportant
Southern Dry-mesic ForestImportant
Southern Tamarack Swamp (rich)Important
Spring Pond, Lake--SpringImportant
Springs and Spring Runs (Hard)Important
Springs and Spring Runs (Soft)Important
Surrogate GrasslandsImportant
Warmwater streamsImportant
Wet PrairieImportant
Central Poor FenPresent
Conifer PlantationPresent
Dry CliffPresent
Dry-mesic PrairiePresent
Eastern Red-cedar ThicketPresent
Ephemeral PondPresent
Forested SeepPresent
Large Lake--deep, hard, drainagePresent
Large Lake--deep, soft, drainagePresent
Large Lake--shallow, soft, drainagePresent
Mesic PrairiePresent
Northern Dry Forest--late seralPresent
Northern Dry Mesic--late seralPresent
Northern Mesic Forest--late seralPresent
Northern Wet-mesic ForestPresent
Oak OpeningPresent
Oak WoodlandPresent
Riverine Impoundment - ReservoirsPresent
Sand BarrensPresent
Southern Mesic ForestPresent
Wild Rice MarshPresent

General opportunities

General management opportunities 1

Fire-dependent communities were once common and widespread in the Central Sand Hills. Although today's examples are mostly small remnants, there are excellent opportunities to manage for fire-dependent and fire-adapted communities such as oak forest, oak woodland, oak savanna, tallgrass prairie, sedge meadow and fen. Remnant savannas, both Oak Barrens and Oak Openings, occur on dry and dry-mesic sites scattered throughout the Central Sand Hills. All of these communities have high potential to support rare plants, invertebrates and reptiles.

Dry forests of white, black and bur oak are common, though forest management at large scales is constrained by ownership patterns and small tract size and current land uses. Management of oak forests and woodlands could be integrated with management of oak savanna, prairie and wetlands. This would be especially appropriate on public and private lands managed mostly for conservation purposes. Mixed forests of pine and oak are locally common, and the Central Sand Hills is one of two ecological landscapes where good examples of the Central Sands Pine-Oak Forest community have been documented.

Numerous springs and coldwater streams emanate from the end moraine that forms the western boundary of the Central Sand Hills. Wetland communities associated with these glacial landforms include fen, sedge meadow, low prairie, shrub swamp and tamarack swamp; some of these wetlands are quite alkaline and differ in composition from those found in the more acid environments to the west.

Large wetland complexes such as those found at Germania Marsh, Comstock Marsh, Grand River Marsh and Fountain Creek Prairie contain good examples of fen, sedge meadow, wet prairie, shrub swamp and tamarack swamp. The Central Sand Hills contains more occurrences of the globally rare Coastal Plain Marsh community than any other landscape in Wisconsin. Coastal Plain Marsh communities provide habitat for rare vascular plants and invertebrates and are associated with sandy or gravelly shores of seepage lakes that exhibit dramatic natural water level fluctuations. The US Threatened Fassett's locoweed is strongly associated with this and the inland beach communities. Floodplain forest is significant along stretches of the major rivers such as the Wisconsin, Baraboo and Montello and provides important habitat for resident and migratory wildlife.

Important warmwater rivers include the Fox, Montello, Baraboo and a short but ecologically significant stretch of the Wisconsin. This section includes Pine Island State Wildlife Area, an area associated floodplain habitats, as well as significant savanna and grassland remnants. Dams on several of the major rivers have created very large shallow impoundments, including Buffalo Lake, Lake Puckaway and Lake Wisconsin, and these offer valuable wildlife habitat but need rehabilitation to address their poor water quality. Green Lake, Wisconsin's deepest inland lake, is located in the east central portion of the Central Sand Hills.

Bedrock exposures are rare in the Central Sand Hills. However, they include good examples of glades, cliffs and talus slopes, which support rare plants and other unique vegetation, as well as some rare animals.

1. The text presented here is a summarized version of a longer section developed for the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.


Central Sand Hills Landtype Associations

Landtype Associations (LTAs) are units of the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units (NHFEU), a hierarchical ecological land classification system. LTAs are much smaller than Ecological Landscapes, ranging in size from 10,000 and 300,000 acres. In Wisconsin, they are usually based on glacial features like individual moraines or outwash plains. LTAs can be very useful for planning at finer scales within an Ecological Landscape.

The following are the LTAs associated with the Central Sand Hills Ecological Landscape. The Central Sand Hills LTA map [PDF] can be used to locate these LTAs. Clicking on an LTA in the list below will open a data table for that LTA in PDF format. Descriptions are included, where available.

Last Revised: July 16, 2020

Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition