Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Kurtz Woods State Natural Area: Thomas Meyer

Kurtz Woods State Natural Area
Thomas Meyer

October 2014

Wisconsin, naturally

Kurtz Woods State Natural Area

Thomas A. Meyer, State Natural Areas Program

Notable: The rolling glaciated plains of eastern Wisconsin once supported swaths of upland forest dominated by smooth–trunked American beech, sugar maple, red oak, basswood and ash. Today, little remains of this "southern mesic forest," most having been lost to development, lumbering, and conversion to agricultural lands. Most, that is, except for a few isolated woodlots like Kurtz Woods. Despite some selection harvesting in the past, many of the trees here are large — more than 30 inches in diameter — forming a canopy that soars over a rich ground flora. The 45–acre woods is at its best in spring, when the floor is carpeted with wild leek, nodding trillium, hepatica, Canada violet, Solomonís plume, maidenhair fern and other wildflowers. Returning during "fall color" season in autumn rewards visitors with the copper–colored leaves of beech, gold of basswood, burgundy of oak and vibrant red and orange of maple. Small kettle depressions in the woods and large glacial boulders strewn about the forest floor attest to the origin of this landscape in the wake of the Lake Michigan lobe of Wisconsinís last glaciation. The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy acquired land at Kurtz Woods with funding provided in part by a grant from the Knowles–Nelson Stewardship Program.

How to get there: From the intersection of State Highway 33 and County Highway O in Saukville, go south on County Highway O for 1 mile, then west on Cedar–Sauk Road 0.1 miles, then south on Knollwood Drive 0.2 miles, then west one block on Lily Lane, then south one block on Iris Lane, then west one lock on Lilac Lane, then south a half block to a gravel walkway between two homes on the west side of Dahlia Lane. The access is marked with a nature preserve sign and kiosk. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search "Kurtz Woods Preserve" for a map and more information.