Brillion Wildlife Area
Brillion Wildlife Area is a 4,800-acre property consisting of bottomland hardwoods, prairie, marsh, wetlands, some upland hardwoods and agricultural fields.
Find Brillion Wildlife Area as State Highway 10 enters the city of Brillion on the north. Go approximately 1 mile south of Brillion on Highway PP, then 1 mile west on Deerview Road to the end past the waste collection facility. Brillion Wildlife Area is surrounded by the communities of Brillion, Hilbert and Potter in the townships of Brillion and Rantoul.
In 1947, the department leased portions of the site as a public hunting ground for ducks, deer and other wildlife. The area was known for its abundant wealth of ducks during the hunting season and deer during the winter. By 1962, a formal proposal was made to acquire lands within the current boundary structure. The Calumet County Board, the Natural Resources Board and others approved of the project by the end of 1962. In 1963, formal acquisition began — leading up to the acquisition of the current nature center site and a total of about 5,000 acres of land within the Brillion Wildlife Area project boundary.
In 1975, an Environmental Impact Statement was prepared for the project and a formal Master Plan drafted for review. By early 1977, both plans were adopted by the Natural Resources Board. Goals were to develop and manage the area for waterfowl production and a broad spectrum of hunting recreation, and to provide opportunities for educational and compatible non-hunting recreational activities. Objectives are: 1). Produce 2,000 ducklings annually, 2). Provide 8,600 participant days of use through hunting and other recreational use and 3). provide adequate food and cover to maintain a wintering herd of 200-300 deer.
Benefits of the project were to: 1). Provide upland and lowland habitat for a wide variety of non-game species, 2). Provide wetland habitat for 15 to 20 muskrats per acre with an annual harvest of 3,000 to 6,000 muskrats, 3). Manage upland timber stands for sound silvicultural practices and 4). Provide for 1,000 participant days of non-consumptive use such as wildlife observation, photography and hiking.
The great drought of 1976-77 brought on further changes for the Brillion Wildlife Area. Fires swept throughout the entire project in the fall of 1976, including private land covering over 6,000 acres, burning deep holes into the peat structure of the marsh on the southeast and east sides. Intensive burning on 500 acres left scars still found today within the wetland and created pockets of aspen throughout the site.
Change is inevitable. Today, the Brillion Wildlife Area encompasses over 5,000 acres of habitat devoted to a broad spectrum of uses meeting the intent of the Master Plan. Created are 11 wetland restorations, 17 parking lots, 1,500 acres of restored grassland prairie and a large 50-acre flowage funded in large part by local partners for waterfowl production.
The Brillion Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:
- Cross-country skiing (on Brillion Nature Center Trails but not groomed);
- Canoeing (Manitowoc River);
- Dog training and trialing site;
- Hiking (no designated trail);
- Hunting (especially noted for deer, waterfowl, mourning doves [in natural habitat and harvested winter wheat fields], pheasant and turkey);
- Model airplane field adjoining public lands (Calumet Flyers);
- Snowmobiling trail;
- Wild edibles/gathering; and
- Wildlife viewing.
Hunting note: The wildlife area includes a special closed area (40 acres) surrounding the nature center, except during gun deer season.
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