State Natural Area - The Nature Conservancy Addition, located on the Mississippi River.
Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area - The Nature Conservancy Addition, located on the Mississippi River. © John Gregor/ColdSnap Photography

Places We Protect

Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area

Nature Conservancy Addition, Wisconsin

The rugged Mississippi River bluffs at this preserve are home to dry prairie, raptors and songbirds.

WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT

This 161-acre preserve is a great place to experience rugged Mississippi River bluffs covered with dry prairies and oak openings. It is home to bald eagles and other raptors, red-headed woodpeckers and migratory songbirds like the cerulean warbler.

Enjoy the beauty of this stunning Mississippi River bluffland preserve.

LOCATION

Western Wisconsin: on the Mississippi River in Nelson in Buffalo County

CONDITIONS

This property does not have any maintained or marked trails on it. Visitors may hike, cross-country ski, hunt and watch birds and other wildlife at the preserve.

WHY THE CONSERVANCY SELECTED THIS SITE

The Nature Conservancy Addition to the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area is 161 acres of Mississippi River bluffland in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. It contains dry prairie, cliffs, oak openings and southern forest communities, which provide important habitat for a wide array of native plants and animals including many neo-tropical migratory birds, rare bluff-prairie plants and a plethora of native invertebrates and mammals. The land is designated by the Wisconsin Historical Society as an important archaeological site once used by Native Americans.

WHAT THE CONSERVANCY HAS DONE/IS DOING

In May 2012, The Nature Conservancy protected 161 acres of land formerly owned by Dwight and Aimee Hemion. Dwight Hemion grew up in New York City and Los Angeles but fell in love with the land his grandfather farmed in Nelson on the Mississippi River. He eventually moved to Wisconsin to help his grandfather work the land in Nelson and on the home farm near Alma.

Initial work to protect the land in Buffalo County started in 2009, when the Hemions met with staff of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy (MVC), a land trust dedicated to providing permanent protection for important natural lands in the Mississippi River Valley. Before they could finalize a plan to protect the land, Dwight passed away. Aimee Hemion continued to work with MVC on a conservation plan. After years of work on the project, MVC needed assistance to secure the necessary funding and The Nature Conservancy stepped in to help.

WHAT TO SEE: PLANTS AND WILDLIFE

The dry prairies, cliffs, oak openings and southern forests at this preserve provide important habitat for a wide array of native plants and animals.

Some of the plants you can see:

  • Prairie grasses including little and big bluestem, Indian grass, prairie dropseed and side-oats grama grass
  • Prairie wildflowers including pasque flower, hairy puccoon, butterflyweed, lead plant, amethyst shooting star and rough blazing star
  • Woodland plants including bloodroot, wild geranium, wild ginger, Jack-in-the-pulpit, lady and maidenhair ferns, and rue and woodland anemone

Some of the birds you can see:

  • bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other raptors
  • great-horned and barred owls
  • red-headed and pileated woodpeckers
  • cerulean and Kentucky warblers
  • bobolinks and Eastern meadowlarks
  • brown thrashers

Other wildlife species found at the preserve include fox squirrels, red foxes, pocket gophers, American toads, and leopard frogs.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

For more information about visiting the preserve, please follow the links below: