Places We Protect

Rush Lake/Owen and Anne Gromme Preserve


 in the United States.
Redhead duck in the United States. © Connie Gelb/TNC

This preserve has outstanding migratory and breeding bird populations, including redheads.



A Project of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The Nature Conservancy completed the transfer of its land at the Gromme Preserve to the state in 2012.

Why You Should Visit

The landscape surrounding this 3,200-acre lake inspired many scenes painted by Wisconsin wildlife artist Owen Gromme.

The water levels here fluctuate under natural conditions. These changing levels, combined with sedge meadows, prairie and oak openings in the upland areas, create an ideal environment for wildlife — especially breeding and migratory birds.


This preserve does not contain trails.

Please note: You may hear gunfire on neighboring lands during the fall duck hunting season.

Why TNC Selected This Site

Its rich diversity of wildlife, which includes both game and non-game species, makes Rush Lake one of the state's most important wetland communities.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

The Conservancy made its first acquisition at Rush Lake in 1988. From 2006-2012 we transferred almost 600 acres to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The Conservancy worked cooperatively with private landowners, other conservation organizations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of Wisconsin to secure long-term protection for the highest quality natural communities and endangered species habitat in the Rush Lake watershed.

Volunteers are helping restore the prairies and oak savannas at the site by collecting and planting native grasses and wildflowers and removing non-native invasive plants.




Open year-round, dawn to dusk


599 acres

Explore our work in this region

What to See: Plants

Rush Lake is a shallow marshy lake with large adjacent wetlands of cattails and sedges, and shrubs such as dwarf birch, dogwood and willow. Remnant oak savannas, once common but now very rare, occur on the higher, drier ground.

What to See: Wildlife

Two hundred years ago, a visitor to Rush Lake would have seen bison, elk, gray wolves and black bear roaming the uplands.

Today this area is most significant for its outstanding migratory and breeding bird populations. Birds that commonly nest here include the following:

  • American coots
  • Black terns
  • Common moorhens
  • Least bitterns
  • Marsh wrens
  • Pied-billed grebes
  • Redheads
  • Ruddy ducks
  • Swamp sparrows

Two rare birds — red-necked grebe and Forster's tern — also nest here.

In addition, Wisconsin's sportsmen recognize this area for its game species.

Wetlands are abundant, so please wear appropriate footgear for traversing wet ground.