Amsterdam Sloughs Wildlife Area
Amsterdam Sloughs Wildlife Area is located in Burnett County just northwest of Siren. Access the area from County Road D on the north, County Road N on the west and several township roads on the south and east.
From glacial ice to today's landscape, Amsterdam Sloughs Wildlife Area has a rich history.
The ground you walk on was once the bottom of a huge glacial lake which occupied this area about 10,000 years ago. That's why the soil is so light and sandy. Out of this soil grew a brush-prairie. Imagine a landscape with a few large red and jack pine trees scattered amidst a prairie of scrub oak, hazel, sweet fern and colorful prairie grasses and woody plants. Massive sedge marshes broke up the landscape.
Wildfires maintained the brush-prairie for thousands of years. Heavier soils, in what is now the southeast portion of the wildlife area, supported a northern hardwood forest of maple, oak, ash, birch and aspen. Wildlife flourished within this diverse environment.
Change came when white settlers arrived during the late 1800s to farm the sandy land. While farming proved futile, it broke up the prairie and suppressed wildfires. Without fire, the original brush-prairie grew into a jack pine and oak forest. In addition, wetlands were being drained at a rapid rate; by the early 1900s, nearly all the wetlands were drained. These major changes caused many native wildlife species to decline or completely disappear.
Acquisition of Amsterdam Sloughs began in 1956. Currently, the project boundaries include 7,233 acres (over 80% state ownership). There is some private land within the boundary, so watch for posted land.
Wetland, prairie and forest management objectives
The primary management objective at Amsterdam Sloughs is to restore portions of the original presettlement vegetation and the wildlife associated with it. This includes restoring drained wetlands and brush-prairie which grew into a jack pine/oak forest. Management will also focus on maintaining a diversity of forested areas to improve habitat for forest wildlife. This mix of habitat types provide habitat for a wide variety of species.
Development of Amsterdam Sloughs began in 1968 when a dike was constructed to create the 500-acre Black Brook Flowage. Since then, several smaller flowages have been constructed. A total of 75 potholes, averaging one-tenth of an acre in size, were dug to function as breeding ponds for waterfowl. Several miles of firebreaks were constructed to facilitate prescribed burning which will be used to restore and maintain the native brush-prairie. Several old farm fields were planted with native prairie grasses to provide nesting cover for waterfowl.
Development of Amsterdam Sloughs is just beginning. Plans include construction of 13 small flowages totaling approximately 370 acres and 100 potholes. Additional firebreaks are also slated for construction. To facilitate public use and improve access, 11 parking lots, five boat landings and several miles of hiking and cross-country ski trails are planned. A waterfowl closed area is planned for the southeast corner of the property.
- Property features
From the dike near Black Brook Flowage, you can easily see a great blue heron colony at the north end of the flowage. Don't forget your binoculars! Artificial nest structures were erected in the colony to replace deteriorating nest trees. In addition to herons, the colony contains two to three osprey nests and an occasional cormorant. Great egrets frequent the colony in the spring and late summer. A bald eagle nest has been active on the south end of the flowage for several years. You can also see Canada geese, trumpeter swans, loons, several species of ducks and a variety of marsh birds nesting in the flowage. Caution: Do not boat or canoe near the colony during late March through early August when the birds are nesting. Thanks for your cooperation.
Amsterdam Soughs is one of over 200 wildlife areas managed by the Department of Natural Resources. Amsterdam Sloughs, together with Crex Meadows and Fish Lake, comprise the Glacial Lake Grantsburg Wildlife Management Work Unit. All four are located in western Burnett County.
Lakes at Amsterdam Sloughs
Blomberg Lake is a 94-acre northern bog lake. You'll find ring-neck ducks, common yellowthroats and loons at home here. You'll also find unusual bog plants such as Labrador tea, bog rosemary and the insect-eating pitcher plant. If you're lucky, you'll find some wild cranberry bushes. This lake is entirely state-owned and undeveloped. Portions of two other lakes, Fish Lake and Little Doctor Lake, are also located within the wildlife area. Most of the shoreline of these two lakes is privately owned and partially developed with cottages and permanent residences.
Hunters will find ample opportunity to roam at this remote property. Much of the interior is accessible only by foot. Hip boots are a must when hunting the interior. The lakes and flowages of Amsterdam Sloughs offer excellent duck and goose hunting. Waterfowl hunting is concentrated on Black Brook Flowage, but the small flowages provide opportunities for waterfowlers seeking solitude. Bow and gun deer hunters also enjoy quality hunting as a result of the limited road access and healthy ruffed grouse and woodcock populations provide very good hunting for the upland bird hunter. Populations of beavers, muskrats, minks, otters, raccoons and foxes provide excellent opportunities for trappers.
- Additional recreation
The Amsterdam Sloughs Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:
- Cross-country skiing (no designated trail);
- Hiking (no designated trail);
- Wild edibles/gathering; and
- Wildlife viewing.
If you are interested in exploring this property further, you can access an interactive map.
- Useful links
Find out more about how to adopt this wildlife area.