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Wildlife Management

Grassy Lake Wildlife Area

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Grassy Lake Wildlife Area

Grassy Lake Wildlife Area is a 695-acre property located in Columbia County. Find it three miles southeast of Rio on Highway 16. Take Erdman Road or Fischer Road off from Highway 16. The property consists of approximatly 380 acres of wetland, 210 acres of upland and 105 wooded acres.

The property was established as a wildlife area in 1958 with a boundary encompassing the wetland basin known as Grassy Lake. The property was established to provide opportunities for public hunting, particularly waterfowl and an area for wildlife production. Current public use of the property is highest for hunting deer, waterfowl and pheasant. Trapping muskrats and other furbearing animals is significant.


Historically, the primary management objective for Grassy Lake Wildlife Area was to provide hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities. As lands were acquired, marginal farm fields were converted to prairie to compliment the existing native prairie community and provide additional wildlife habitat and hunting opportunity.

Management objective

Current management objectives focus on protecting the Grassy Lake wetland basin and managing for pre-settlement vegetation types. This includes maintaining existing prairies and savannas and seeking opportunities to increase these cover types. The property is managed on a landscape scale, creating smooth transitions between cover types.

The property is monitored for invasive species such as black locust and garlic mustard. Prairie and savanna areas are managed and maintained through prescribed burning, mowing and herbicide use to limit brush encroachment and encourage vigorous grasslands. Wetlands are managed through limited disturbance to prevent the spread of reed canary grass. Woodlands are managed in a manner that limits the spread of oak wilt and encourages regeneration of oak and hickory.

The Columbia County master plan was completed in 2012 and guides the long term management of this property. Progress toward achieving the goals of the master plan are tracked through annual monitoring reports.


The Grassy Lake Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities.

  • Birding
  • Canoeing
  • Cross country skiing (no designated trail)
  • Fishing
  • Hiking (no designated trail)
  • Hunting - especially noted for deer, waterfowl, pheasants, mourning doves, rabbits, turkey (zone 3), furbearers and squirrels
  • Trapping
  • Wild edibles/gathering
  • Wildlife viewing

Download [PDF] a map of this property.

If you are interested in exploring this property further, you can access an interactive map.

Useful links
Last revised: Tuesday March 24 2020