The Nature Conservancy has long recognized the importance of America’s public lands. We champion programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund and work with local, state and federal entities to establish and expand popular and iconic American places.
While the sites below represent only a fraction of our projects in Wisconsin, we hope these highlights will inspire you to explore and protect our great outdoors.
After all, this land is your land!
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
The Nature Conservancy protected 1,481 acres on Michigan Island in 1970. The island in Lake Superior became one of 21 islands in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore when the Conservancy transferred it to the National Park Service in 1974. Located in Ashland County off the northern coast of Wisconsin, Michigan Island was heavily logged until conservation efforts helped recover its hardwood forests. Two lighthouses adorn its shores, and black bears, deer and red foxes roam its forests.
Devil’s Lake State Park
The Conservancy helped expand Devil’s Lake State Park by protecting nearly 400 acres in Sauk County and transferring the land to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in three parts beginning in 1992. Wisconsin’s most popular state park, its beautiful landscape is ideal for camping, canoeing and hiking. The red oak and red maple forests and rocky hillsides that the Conservancy helped protect give the millions of people who visit each year even more of the great outdoors to enjoy.
Ice Age National Scenic Trail
The Conservancy helped connect portions of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail when it protected more than 1,000 acres and transferred the land to the Ice Age Trail Alliance, a nonprofit organization that looks after the thousand-mile hiking path. The trail traverses the entire state, following the remarkable landforms left by Wisconsin’s last glaciation. The Conservancy’s land contributions in Chippewa, Manitowoc and Taylor counties contain wild rivers, wetlands and northern hardwood forests.
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway
By 1992, the Conservancy helped protect almost 200 acres of forest, marsh and meadow along the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway and transferred it to the state for long-term protection and management. Flowing freely for 92 miles from the dam at Prairie du Sac to the Mississippi River, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway is the longest remaining natural stretch of river in the state. Visitors are welcome to fish, canoe, swim, hike and camp in the area.
St. Croix Islands Wildlife Area
In 1984, the Conservancy transferred 80 acres of wetland and oak forest on the eastern banks of the St. Croix River to the state to become part of the St. Croix Islands Wildlife Area. The land is located at the point where the St. Croix and Apple rivers meet and lies adjacent to the state-owned Apple River Canyon Scientific Area. Visitors commonly see bald eagles, osprey and other wildlife in the area.
St. Louis River Estuary
With urban development affecting the St. Louis River upstream, the Conservancy joined the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund in protecting Wisconsin shoreline on Lake Superior’s largest U.S. tributary. Douglas County purchased 87 acres of surrounding wetlands and forest from the Conservancy in 2003. The St. Louis River Estuary at the mouth of the river is home to an astounding diversity of fish and bird species and is open for bird-watching, hunting and fishing.
Whitefish Dunes State Park
In 1978, the Conservancy helped expand Whitefish Dunes State Park in Door County, which is known for its forested sand dunes and beaches along Lake Michigan, by 80 acres. Home to a large variety of plants and animals, the park contains hiking and cross-country ski trails, boardwalks across the wetlands and the remains of eight Native American villages. The Nature Center provides visitors with interactive exhibits on the park’s ecology, geology and human history.