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Wisconsin

Summerton Bog


Why You Should Visit

Summerton Bog is one of just a few remaining wetland areas of its kind in southern Wisconsin. 

It is unique because Summerton Bog contains plant varieties—sedges, in particular—that are typically northern in type.  

This small, protected area also contains a wide variety of wildflowers along a western section of calcareous fen.  Rising above the willowy grasses is a five-acre oak island that stands in marked contrast to the low vegetation all around.

Location

South central Wisconsin. Located in Marquette County approximately 30 miles north of Portage.  The wetland preserve is dedicated as a National Natural Landmark and is available for education and research. The fen is located on two sides of a raised oak/hickory upland island, towards the southeast corner of the site.

Hours

Open year-round, dawn to dusk.

Conditions

Very difficult walking conditions throughout the sedge meadow and bog portions of this preserve.  There are 80 acres of uplands along Freedom Road.

Warning: Poison Sumac found throughout the sedge meadow and tamarack bog.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Summerton Bog stands in a glacial lakebed where muck and peat soils support the various wetland types and emergent aquatic communities.  Water is at or near the surface year-round in the lowland areas, supplied by precipitation and five large artesian springs.  The earliest maps of the area, dating back to the 1830s, show sedge meadow as the predominant vegetation.  Subsequent land use for grazing, haying, logging and ditching disturbed the ecosystem, and the meadows are succumbing to an invasion of shrubs or are lost altogether outside the preserve.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Conservancy began acquiring land at Summerton Bog in 1966.  Today we own 451 acres.

Two primary types of land management activities occur here:

  • Control of black locust that invades uplands.
  • Use of controlled fires to suppress competing trees and shrubs and to stimulate the growth of native grasses and wildflowers.
What to See: Plants

Some plants common to Summerton Bog:

  • Tussock & sawgrass sedge
  • Aster species
  • Joe-pye-weed
  • Goldenrod
  • Flowers in the fen include: 
    • Fringed gentians
    • Yellow avens
    • Bunchberry
    • Yellow stargrass
    • Yellow loosestrife
    • Lobelia
What to See: Animals
  • The low, lush meadow and fen vegetation surrounded by tamaracks is a gathering place for nesting birds. As many as 65 species have been spotted.  The Nashville warbler, veery, green heron and the song sparrow are just a few of the birds that reside in season. 
  • The bog is also an important nesting area and migratory stopover for sandhill cranes.
  • The pickerel frog, which was once considered a threatened species in Wisconsin.

Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines"

Directions

From Madison, take State Hwy 51 north:

  • Travel approximately 30 miles to the Packwaukee (Cnty Road D) exit.
  • Go west on Cnty D approximately 2 miles to its junction with Freedom Rd. 
  • Go south and then west of Freedom Rd. for 1 mile to a parking lot on the south side of the road.
    (Map to Summerton Bog)
Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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