Big Beaver Creek Wildlife Area
Big Beaver Creek Wildlife Area is a 572-acre property located approximately 4.5 miles northwest of Wheeler or 4.5 miles northeast of Boyceville. A small parking area is located off of 1210th Avenue.
Big Beaver Creek is the primary water resource on this wildlife area as it flows through the middle of the property for nearly 2 miles. Little Beaver Creek flows through the east side of the property for a half mile before meeting Big Beaver Creek near the southeast corner of the wildlife area. There is also a roughly 2-acre impoundment in the center of the property. The areas adjacent to the creeks are primarily lowland brush and trees. The uplands are dominated by cool season grasses and an occasional oak tree. A small oak savanna restoration can also be found to the southwest of Big Beaver Creek.
The westernmost 110 acres of this property comprise Big Beaver Meadow State Natural Area. The meadow contains nearly equal elements of wet prairie and southern sedge meadow. This site lies near the botanical transition zone possessing both northern and southern species including several species of greatest conservation need.
Acquisition of lands for Big Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area began in 1959 to protect and provide public access to Big Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek and the associated wetland complex. The final acquisition occurred in 1973, which included the area where the parking lot currently is located, providing a spectacular view of the Big Beaver Creek marsh.
Historically, the management objective on this property was to protect the wildlife habitat associated with the creeks and marsh and to manage the merchantable timber on the property, which included tamarack. Today, little tamarack remains, and protecting that dwindling resource is an important management objective. The large open prairie area is managed in a manner that will keep it an open landscape. A great deal of effort has gone into restoring the oak savanna as well; this area had been pastured for many years in the past.
Prescribed burning takes place on the grasslands every five years or so. In addition, some intermittent mowing takes place to limit brush encroachment. Mechanical tree/brush removal is the primary management method currently in use in the savanna area.
The Big Beaver Creek Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:
- Cross-country skiing (no designated trail);
- Hiking (no designated trail);
- Hunting (especially noted for deer, bear, turkey, pheasant, waterfowl and small game);
- Wild edibles/gathering; and
- Wildlife viewing.
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