Glacial Habitat Restoration Areas
The Glacial Habitat Restoration Area (GHRA) is a program that takes a regional approach to wildlife management by restoring, creating and maintaining habitat for waterfowl, wild pheasants and non-game songbirds. The program's focus is the creation of a patchwork of restored grasslands and wetlands amid the established croplands of Columbia, Dodge, Fond du Lac and Winnebago counties and thereby maximizing wildlife habitat. In an era of increasing rural development and disappearing farmland and wetland, these areas are critical to the nesting, feeding and overall survival of birds and other wildlife populations.
Through the purchase of land and the establishment of perpetual conservation easements, the GHRA is working towards its goal of restoring and conserving 38,600 acres of permanent grassland nesting cover and 11,000 acres of wetlands in the 24-township area. These restoration activities are made possible through a variety of funding sources including the use of state Stewardship funds which are used primarily for land acquisition activities. In addition, habitat restoration activities are funded through license fees as well as pheasant, turkey and waterfowl stamp accounts. Federal sources of funding are also utilized heavily including Pittman-Robertson Funds and North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants. Besides these public sources of funding, numerous local and state conservation organizations and private donors contribute financially to the success of the GHRA habitat objectives.
To view properties in more detail, launch the Public Access Lands mapping application.
- Hunting opportunities
Hunters are invited to utilize the rich habitat found on all GHRA fee title parcels. Whether searching for spring turkeys or tracking white-tailed deer in fall, these properties have a wealth of opportunities to offer. A number of GHRA properties also receive stocked pheasants. To preserve a quality hunting experience for yourself and others we ask that you follow common hunting etiquette. Avoid share-cropped areas until after they are harvested. These areas are planted by neighboring farmers who assist in the preparation, planting and maintenance of these lands in exchange for cropping rights.
Please do not drive or park your vehicle on access lanes, in front of gates or into the fields. This destroys habitat and blocks access by sharecroppers and DNR personnel that may need access to the site while you are on the property. Driveways and parking lots are provided on the majority of the properties for your use.
Be aware of other users on the property. A general safety practice is only two hunters per 40 acres. Also, watch for hikers and birdwatchers that may not be wearing blaze orange.
Please review the property map located by each main access point to familiarize yourself with the property boundaries and neighboring buildings. Trespassing is illegal and you could be fined up to $1000 for entering private property without the landowner's permission.
Finally, familiarize yourself with the current hunting regulations and GHRA property rules. By following these guidelines and rules as well as respecting other property users, you can create an enjoyable atmosphere and experience for yourself and others.
- Bird watching opportunities
The large communities of open prairie, woodlands and wetlands found on GHRA properties lend themselves to a rich diversity of resident and migratory birdlife just waiting to be discovered by the casual or serious birdwatcher. Whether searching the grasslands of Rosendale Township for upland sandpipers or catching a glimpse of an elusive short-eared owl near Waupun, GHRA properties offer a unique birding experience. Other sighted species include, but are not limited to, eastern meadowlarks, bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows, northern harriers, eastern bluebirds, cattle and great egrets, sora rail, yellowlegs, common yellowthroat and dickcissels.
Whether taking a casual hike or actively searching for that special species, we ask that you please respect the land and wildlife you are observing. Make sure you always view wildlife from a distance, and please avoid photographing or otherwise disrupting birds during their nesting activities. Respect others using the property while you are thereby giving them room to enjoy their activities and not disturbing the wildlife they are observing.
Please remember that all GHRA fee title, or state-owned properties, are open to hunting. Awareness of alternate activities occurring in the area you are using creates a safe, enjoyable atmosphere for all involved. A schedule of hunting dates can be obtained through your local DNR Service Center or online.
- Rules and regulations
Only those properties purchased by the state through the GHRA program are open to the public for hiking, sightseeing, hunting and trapping. Those properties in the conservation easement program remain under the control of the owner and are open to public use only with the permission of the landowner. Please see the list of properties open to public use.
- Only foot travel is allowed on GHRA properties. Horses and motorized vehicles including ATVs, are not allowed. Snowmobiles are only allowed on designated snowmobile trails.
- All stands and blinds used for hunting and wildlife viewing must be non-permanent and removed by the end of each day.
- Target shooting and shooting towards or within 100 yards of any buildings is illegal. It is important to be a good neighbor when using these properties so please be conscious of the adjacent houses and farms.
- Camping, fires or overnight parking are not allowed on GHRA properties. Private and public campgrounds are available throughout the GHRA.
- Dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 8 feet during the nesting season, April 15 - July 31. At all times, be considerate of the neighboring property owners and make every attempt to prevent your dog from trespassing.
Please help keep these properties clean by picking up after yourself and when necessary, others. When money is spent on litter pick up and vandalism repairs, less money is available for wildlife habitat restoration. This directly affects you and the wildlife populations that depend on these properties.