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Collins Marsh Wildlife Area


Collins Marsh Wildlife Area is a 4,200-acre property located in Manitowoc County. Find it approximately 12 miles west of Manitowoc and 2 miles south of Reedsville. You can access the property from the west from County Highway W; from the south on County Highway JJ; from the east by Quarry, Einberger and Collins Marsh roads; and from the north by Hilltop Road. The property is comprised mostly of marsh, wetlands, grasslands and bottomland hardwood forest.

Collins Marsh Wildlife Area contains a 915-acre wildlife refuge area intended to provide a haven for fall migration of waterfowl as well as a variety of other wetland loving birds. Refuge areas such as Collins Marsh are vitally important to allow waterfowl a resting area to escape hunting pressure and pack in the necessary nutrition needed to sustain themselves during the long trek south. The birds using these areas are commonly seen moving between areas of the property that are open to public access, as well as areas adjacent to Collins Marsh, providing opportunities for hunters and non-hunters alike. All activity (public access) within the refuge area is prohibited from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, with the exception of the nine-day gun deer hunting season. This includes access to the main berm as well as the dam itself.


In 1946, the Wisconsin Conservation Department, now the Department of Natural Resources, leased the marsh and surrounding uplands as public hunting grounds. A land purchase program was initiated in 1959. A local organization, Conservation Education Inc., raised more than $20,000 toward the purchase of Collins Marsh Wildlife Area. During the 1960s, the department installed a dam across Mud Creek, which impounded water and maintained marsh conditions year round. This impoundment proved to be an important Canada geese migration destination that is still utilized today. Managers created smaller impoundments in the 1980s and early 1990s to add more wetland habitat.


Collins Marsh is managed primarily for wetland wildlife. A variety of birds make the marsh their home, including osprey, herons, black terns, marsh wrens, sedge wrens and yellow-headed blackbirds. Muskrats are abundant, while mink and otter are commonly observed. The grassy uplands provide hunting opportunities for ring-necked pheasants, cottontail rabbits and mourning doves, as well as habitat for bobolinks, sandhill cranes and northern harriers.

For more information on master planning for this and other wildlife areas around the state, visit the property planning page.


The Collins Marsh Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:

  • Birding;
  • Canoeing;
  • Cross-country skiing (no designated trail);
  • Dog training area (located on the gravel road accessed from County Highway JJ — the training area is the pond and area immediately around the pond);
  • Fishing;
  • Hiking (no designated trail);
  • Hunting (especially noted for waterfowl, small game and deer — waterfowl refuge closed to all public access from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, with the exception of the nine-day gun deer hunting season);
  • Snowmobile trail;
  • Trapping;
  • Wild edibles/gathering (wild rice); and
  • Wildlife viewing.

The property also features the Neustadter Nature Center at Collins Marsh [exit DNR].


Download [PDF] a map of this property.

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

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