The Wisconsin system of state Wild Rivers was established by the 1965 Legislature with the enactment of s. 30.26, Wis. Stats., in order to afford the people of the state an opportunity to enjoy natural streams, to attract out-of-state visitors and assure the well-being of our tourist industry, and to preserve some rivers in a free-flowing condition and protect them from development. Only a Legislative Act can designate a Wild River.
The following rivers, or portions of rivers, are currently designated as Wild Rivers:
- Pike River — Marinette County
- Pine and Popple Rivers — Florence and Forest counties
- Martin Hanson Wild River — a portion of the Brunsweiler River in Ashland County
- Totogatic River — Bayfield, Burnett, Sawyer and Washburn counties
The DNR owns land within the Pike, Pine-Popple and Totogatic Wild Rivers. On DNR lands, there is no vegetative control within 150 feet from the bank on either side of the river, walk-in access only, no motorized vehicles, no stream alterations, no maintained trails and few developed parking lots or canoe put-ins. These rules are intended to preserve the wild and scenic qualities of the river.
Stewardship of the wild rivers is shared by all landowners along the river — small private landowners, commercial timber companies and county, state and federal governments.