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Wildlife Management

Meadow Valley 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.

Meadow Valley Wildlife Area

Meadow Valley Wildlife Area is a 58,000-acre property. It is located in Central Wisconsin between Necedah and Babcock, about two hours driving time north from Madison. It is 25 miles southwest of Wisconsin Rapids and 20 miles north of Mauston. Or, one mile west of Babcock on Highway X.



The wildlife area lies within the bed of old Glacial Lake Wisconsin. The topography is flat with a mixture of large marshes and low sandy ridges. Most of the sand was deposited by wind after the glacial waters receded.

During the late 1800's, settlers logged the large white and red pine that dominated the upland forest. The land clearing was completed and numerous ditches were dug in an attempt to farm the area after the turn of the century. A short unpredictable growing season, poor soil and excessive drainage taxes caused most of the farms to be abandoned. The federal government purchased the tax delinquent land under the Jones-Bankhead Farm Tenant Act. In 1940, the 90 square mile Meadow Valley WIldlife Area (Central Wisconsin Conservation Area)was leased to the state of Wisconsin and is administered under a cooperative agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

During the Civilian Conservation Corps era, numerous ditch plugs were installed and several areas were forested. Natural forest growth has reclaimed most of the remaining uplands. Many of the camping areas on the Meadow Valley are remnant farm fields. Most of the flowage areas on the property were constructed during the 1950's and 60's.

Management objective

Today, forest wildlife and waterfowl are the primary species managed on the property. The oak, pine, aspen and mixed forests provide optimum conditions for ruffed grouse, woodcock, deer, squirrels, wild turkey and furbearers. The flowages provide hunting opportunities for geese and ducks as well as trapping for muskrat, mink and beaver.

In addition to the excellent hunting offered, the size and diversity of the property provide some fine opportunities for hiking, berry picking and observing wildlife in a truly natural setting.

Forested areas are carefully managed to provide the mixture of young, middle and old age timber that is most conducive to wildlife production. This forest management scheme will also maintain a sustained yield of forest products.

Prescribed burning is used to encourage wetland vegetation by eliminating woody growth and releasing nutrients. Burning is occasionally used as a forest management tool to stimulate regrowth, reduce slash and prepare sites for planting. Drawdowns on certain flowages are used to improve feeding conditions for ducks and geese. This duplicates a natural cycle of wet and dry periods and improves habitat for all wetland species.

Future efforts will be directed toward improving the forest management program and maintaining the existing flowages. Public hunting and other compatible recreation will be the primary uses.

The Sandhill-Meadow Valley Work Unit master plan was completed in 2011 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 Meadow Valley Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities.

  • Birding
  • Camping - primitive and only during the spring turkey seasons and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 (see map [PDF] for locations)
  • Canoeing/boating (no motors permitted)
  • Cross country skiing (no designated trail)
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Snowmobiling (restricted to marked trails)
  • Trapping
  • Wild edibles/gathering
  • Wildlife viewing

Meadow Valley Wildlife Area is attractive to hunters and trappers because of its remote landscape. In addition to excellent hunting, the size and diversity of the property provides opportunities for hiking, berry picking, bird-watching and observing wildlife in a natural setting. Other public uses include photography, fishing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling (restricted to marked trails). Canoeing and boating are allowed but no motors are allowed on any waters within MVWA.

Primitive camping is permitted at designated sites, free of charge during the spring turkey seasons and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. Campers are required to self-register. Some of the camp sites have pit toilets. Campers must bring their own water and all garbage must be removed from the campgrounds.

All vehicular travel on interior access roads and dikes is prohibited. ATVs are not allowed on the MVWA. However ATV use is permitted on some township roads within the MVWA. While at the camping areas, ATVs must remain on the trailer.


Meadow Valley Wildlife Area map [PDF]
Eagle Nest Flowage [PDF]
Meadow Valley and Beaver Flowages [PDF]
Dandy Creek Flowage [PDF]
Jackson Unit [PDF]

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

Useful links
Last revised: Wednesday May 06 2020