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Meadow Valley Wildlife Area

Meadow Valley Wildlife Area
Meadow Valley Wildlife Area is a 58,000-acre property in central Wisconsin between Necedah and Babcock, about two hours north of Madison. It is 25 miles southwest of Wisconsin Rapids and 20 miles north of Mauston. Access can also be found 1 mile west of Babcock on Highway X.

Management Objectives


The wildlife area lies within the bed of old Glacial Lake Wisconsin. The topography is flat with a mixture of large marshes and low sandy ridges. Most of the sand was deposited by wind after the glacial waters receded.

During the late 1800s, settlers logged the large white and red pine that dominated the upland forest. The land clearing was completed, and numerous ditches were dug to farm the area after the turn of the century. A short and unpredictable growing season, poor soil and excessive drainage taxes caused most of the farms to be abandoned. The federal government purchased the tax delinquent land under the Jones-Bankhead Farm Tenant Act. In 1940, the 90-square-mile Meadow Valley Wildlife Area was leased to the state of Wisconsin and is administered under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

During the Civilian Conservation Corps era, numerous ditch plugs were installed and several areas were forested. Natural forest growth has reclaimed most of the remaining uplands and many of the camping areas are remnant farm fields. Most of the flowage areas on the property were constructed during the 1950s and '60s.

Management objective

Today, forest wildlife and waterfowl are the primary species managed on the property. The oak, pine, aspen and mixed forests provide optimum conditions for ruffed grouse, woodcock, deer, squirrels, wild turkey and furbearers. The flowages provide hunting opportunities for geese and ducks as well as trapping for muskrat, mink and beaver.

In addition to hunting opportunities, the size and diversity of the property provides opportunities for hiking, berry picking and observing wildlife in a truly natural setting.

Forested areas are carefully managed to provide the mixture of young, middle and old age timber that is most conducive to wildlife production. This forest management scheme will also maintain a sustained yield of forest products.

Prescribed burning is used to encourage wetland vegetation by eliminating woody growth and releasing nutrients. Burning is occasionally used as a forest management tool to stimulate regrowth, reduce slash and prepare sites for planting. Drawdowns on flowages are used to improve feeding conditions for ducks and geese. This duplicates a natural cycle of wet and dry periods and improves habitat for all wetland species.

Future efforts will be directed toward improving the forest management program and maintaining the existing flowages. Public hunting and other compatible recreation will be the primary uses.

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


The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:

  • Birding;
  • Camping (primitive [see map [PDF] for locations], and only during the spring turkey seasons and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31);
  • Canoeing/boating (no motors permitted);
  • Cross-country skiing (no designated trail);
  • Fishing;
  • Hiking;
  • Hunting;
  • Snowmobiling (restricted to marked trails);
  • Trapping;
  • Wild edibles/gathering; and
  • Wildlife viewing.

Meadow Valley Wildlife Area is attractive to hunters and trappers because of its remote landscape. In addition to excellent hunting, the size and diversity of the property provides opportunities for hiking, berry picking, bird watching and observing wildlife in a natural setting. Other public uses include photography, fishing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling (restricted to marked trails). Canoeing and boating are allowed; however, no motors are permitted on any waters within MVWA.

Primitive camping is permitted at designated sites, free of charge during the spring turkey seasons and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. Campers are required to self-register. Some of the campsites have pit toilets. Campers must bring their own water and all garbage must be removed from the campgrounds.

All vehicular travel on interior access roads and dikes is prohibited. ATVs are not allowed on the MVWA. However, ATV use is permitted on some township roads within the MVWA. While at the camping areas, ATVs must remain on the trailer.

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