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This property is sponsored by the UW-Stevens Point Wildlife Society Chapter.

Contact information
For information on the wildlife areas, contact:
Wildlife Management

Buena Vista Wildlife Area

COVID-19 Update

On Friday, May 1 and at the direction of Gov. Evers, the department reopened state parks, forests and sites within the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway with special conditions. Four State Natural Areas remain closed: Parfrey's Glen, Pewits Nest, Gibraltar Rock and Dells of the Wisconsin River. All Wildlife Areas and Fisheries Areas are open. For more information, please visit the DNR's COVID-19 information webpage for the full list of conditions, including hours of operation, admission fees and more.


Photo: Snapshot Wisconsin

Buena Vista Wildlife Area is a 12,700-acre property located in southwestern Portage County. Buena Vista Wildlife Area consists of scattered parcels 10 miles east of Wisconsin Rapids and 4 miles south of Plover. The area is predominately grassland with some woodland.

In 2006 it was designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) [exit DNR]. Several state natural areas are found within the borders of the property including the Buena Vista Quarry Prairie and the Buena Vista Prairie Chicken Meadow.

Property history

This area was formerly a marsh dominated by tamarack, black spruce and cattails. In the early 1900's it was drained for agricultural purposes. In the mid 1950's a successful partnership between the department, Dane County Conservation League and Society of Tympanuchus Cupido Pinnatus was created to purchase land specifically for management of grassland habitat for the greater prairie chicken (a state threatened species in Wisconsin) and other grassland dependent species. It is home to the largest concentration of greater prairie chickens in Wisconsin and represents one of the most extensive grasslands east of the Mississippi River. The property harbors a healthy population of other important grassland bird species that include: Henslow sparrows (state threatened species), short-eared owls, upland sandpipers, northern harriers, bobolinks and eastern and western meadowlarks to name a few.

Management objective

Prescribed burning, managed grazing, small scale sharecrop farming, mowing of woody vegetation, herbiciding of woody vegetation and invasive plant control are all management activities used to keep the site in an open condition for use by Greater Prairie Chickens.


The Buena Vista Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities.

  • Birding
  • Cross country skiing (no designated trail)
  • Hiking
  • Hunting - especially noted for deer, woodcock, duck, goose, grouse and mourning dove
  • Trapping
  • Wild edibles/gathering
  • Wildlife viewing

Download maps of this property. Northern section [PDF] and southern section [PDF]

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

Useful links
Last revised: Wednesday May 06 2020