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State Natural Areas Program

SNA Program logo State natural areas (SNAs) protect outstanding examples of Wisconsin's native landscape of natural communities, significant geological formations and archeological sites. Encompassing nearly 400,000 acres, Wisconsin's 687 natural areas are valuable for research and educational use, the preservation of genetic and biological diversity and for providing benchmarks for determining the impact of use on managed lands. They also provide some of the last refuges for rare plants and animals.

Bradley Creek

Located within the Little Wolf River Fishery Area, Bradley Creek Swamp Conifers features a clear, hard-water spring-fed trout stream and a tributary to the Little Wolf River lined by a dense canopy of conifers. Photo by Thomas Meyer.

A dozen great State Natural Areas for...paddling, wildflowers, fall colors and more!


paddle guide cover

Clickable SNA flyer

State Natural Areas protect the very best of Wisconsin's native landscapes, including colorful prairies, old-growth forests, wild lakes and sugar maple woods.

Our new SNA flyer [PDF] features six groups of twelve SNAs to help you find great sites for paddling, hiking among spring wildflowers or big trees, viewing autumn colors and geological wonders, and discovering butterflies and grassland birds.

Just open the flyer and then click on an SNA name.
Get out and enjoy!


The forefather of the State Natural Areas System

Cliff Germain

Cliff Germain walks the talk of preserving unique and pristine properties.

"Without Cliff, the State Natural Areas system wouldn’t be what it is today." Germain’s first jobs with DNR’s predecessor agency, the Wisconsin Conservation Department, were as a wildlife researcher and then game manager. He had joined the Conservation Department in 1949 after serving in the U.S. Army in World War II and earning a zoology degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, he studied with conservation giants including Aldo Leopold, ecologist John Curtis and leading plant taxonomist Norman Fassett. They inspired him and instilled in him the land ethic and the importance of Leopold’s admonition that “to keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

Read the full story by Lisa Gaumnitz.


Buy a guidebook

The perfect companion for hikers, birders and nature lovers, this guide features 150 of the best natural areas across the state. Buy your guide today!

Please note: We have run out of the map that goes with this guidebook. The price for the guidebook has been adjusted accordingly.

Exploring State Natural Areas

In this short video, learn about the SNA program that protects outstanding native landscapes throughout Wisconsin. Natural areas provide unique places for low-impact recreation, including hiking and fishing. Hunting is also allowed on most DNR-owned sites.

Last revised: Thursday, May 31, 2018