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Blackhawk Lake Wildlife Area


Blackhawk Lake Wildlife Area is a 2,037-acre property in west-central Iowa County, in parts of Highland and Eden townships. The property includes the 220 acre Blackhawk Lake, as well as 330 acres of recreation area leased to Iowa County. Iowa County operates a camp ground, hiking trails and beach area within these 330 acres. Blackhawk Lake Wildlife Area lies within the Western Coulee and Ridges Ecological Landscape.


The Blackhawk Lake Wildlife Area is part of the former Blackhawk Lake Recreation Area. Planning operations for the recreation area began in 1960, when the Iowa County Soil and Water Conservation District applied for assistance from the USDA Soil Conservation Service under the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act. In 1964, the development of a recreational lake in conjunction with flood retarding dam was added to the plan.

The Otter Creek Watershed Project was approved in 1966. The co-sponsors were the Iowa County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Cobb-Highland Recreation Commission. Funding came from county, state and federal funds. During 1966 and 1969, 2,040 acres were purchased. These lands were deeded to the state as part of the requirements for financial assistance.

The state subsequently conveyed a perpetual easement to the Cobb-Highland Recreation Commission on 330 acres to be developed as an intensive recreation area. The intensive recreation area now includes a 100-plus site campground, beach area, concession stand, boat launch and parking area and nature trail.

Management objective

The Department of Natural Resources performs extensive work on the 220-acre Blackhawk Lake Wildlife Area to maintain and improve fish habitat for numerous species, including bluegills and other panfish, walleye and northern pike. The department also stocks walleye into Blackhawk Lake on an every-other-year basis and also stocks northern pike.

The department manages the remaining 1,500 acres as a wildlife area. Staff in Wildlife and Forestry work together to manage the oak, walnut and aspen, and to restore areas of oak savanna — all benefitting numerous wildlife species. Grassland habitats, including restored and remnant prairies, are maintained using prescribed burning, haying and other forms of share cropping. The department's staff work in all habitat types to control and remove invasive species.


Blackhawk Lake Wildlife Area (and county operated recreation area), provides numerous recreation opportunities:

  • Hunting (notable species include ring-necked pheasants, wild turkey, deer, squirrel, rabbit and mourning doves);
  • Trapping;
  • Hiking;
  • Cross-country skiing;
  • Snowshoeing;
  • Birding (numerous species including Henslow's sparrow, bobolinks, meadowlarks, waterfowl species, red-headed woodpeckers and bald eagles);
  • Fishing (Blackhawk Lake and Otter Creek);
  • Wild edibles/gathering;
  • Wildlife viewing;
  • Camping;
  • Swimming;
  • Boating/canoeing; and
  • Biking.


If you are interested in exploring this property further, you can access an interactive map.

Recreation Map for Blackhawk Lake [PDF]

Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area

Find out more about how to adopt this wildlife area.