small stream meanders through green wetlands under a bright blue sky during summer
Waubesa Wetlands. Natural springs feed Waubesa Wetlands State Natural Area in Dane County, Wisconsin. © Joshua Mayer

Places We Protect

Waubesa Wetlands

Wisconsin

These spring-fed wetlands close to Madison are a good place to see waterfowl and migrating birds.

In Madison's Backyard, a "living museum" of native plant and animal communities.

Why You Should Visit

This preserve is part of one of Wisconsin's most studied and valued water habitats.

The marshy terrain provides good habitat for many species of waterfowl and other migrating birds. The wetlands are fed by numerous small springs that provide a continuous flow of clear, cool water.  (One of the most impressive of these is Bogholt Deep Spring, which originates in an underground cave.) 

Location

Just a short drive (about 4 miles) south from Madison

How to Get the Most from Your Visit

No established hiking trails exist; the best way to view the preserve is from a canoe. You can put in from the boat launch area at Goodland County Park (see Directions). The park does not offer canoe rentals.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The Waubesa Wetlands Preserve contains high-quality, spring-fed wetlands. Close to Madison, it is used extensively for research and education.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing Here

Since 1974, the Conservancy has protected 232 acres.

To protect the integrity of these wetlands, the Conservancy continues to work closely in a conservation partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Natural Areas Program. Volunteers are helping to restore the wetlands and surrounding woodlands by removing invasive species and conducting controlled burns.

What to See: Plants

  • Southern sedge meadow (a state-threatened community)
  • In the meadows: bluejoint grass and tussock sedge amid a scattering of sawgrass sedge, cattails and bur-reed
  • A fen community of brome grass, aster, goldenrod and sage willow

What to See: Animals

Though difficult to traverse for humans, the marshy terrain is an important nesting area for many species of waterfowl and other migrating birds, including the following:

  • American bitterns
  • American coots
  • Blue-gray gnatcatchers
  • Canada geese
  • Common yellowthroats
  • Great blue herons
  • Sandhill cranes

The waters of the preserve also provide a major fish spawning area, especially for northern pike (early to mid-spring).

PLAN YOUR VISIT

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