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Paradise Marsh Wildlife Area

Paradise Valley Wildlife Area

Paradise Marsh Wildlife Area is a 1,588-acre property located in Columbia County. Find it by going south of Randolph 1 mile on Highway 73 to Highway G. Go west on G 3 miles to the wildlife area. The property consists of approximately 1,270 acres of wetland, 260 acres of grasslands and 60 acres of wooded habitat.

Paradise Marsh has long provided excellent habitat for a variety of wildlife and migratory waterfowl. During the early 1900s, cutting of marsh hay by farmers was a common practice. According to elderly farmers of the 1910-1930s time period, prairie chicken was common in the marsh area. In the early 1900s, drainage ditches were dug throughout the marsh and large portions of Beaver Creek were straightened. Some of the ditching efforts were for farming the muck soils underlying the wetland vegetation.

In 1962, the Wisconsin Conservation Commission (precursor to the DNR) purchased 425 acres of wetlands in the Paradise Marsh area. The intent of creating the Paradise Marsh Wildlife Area was to eventually improve habitat conditions for waterfowl and pheasant by reducing further drainage of the marsh and providing undisturbed upland nesting cover.

Management

Historically, the primary management objective for Paradise Marsh Wildlife Area was to provide hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities. As lands were acquired, marginal farm fields were converted to grassland to compliment the existing grassland community and provide additional wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities. A large wetland restoration was completed to create the flowage on the south side of the property.

Current management objectives focus on protecting the watershed of Beaver Creek and managing for presettlement vegetation types. This includes maintaining existing prairies and savannas and seeking opportunities to increase these cover types. The property is managed on a landscape scale to create smooth transitions between cover types.

The property is monitored for invasive species such as buckthorn and garlic mustard. Prairie and savanna areas are managed and maintained through prescribed burning, mowing and herbicide use to limit brush encroachment and encourage vigorous grasslands. Wetlands are managed through limited disturbance to prevent the spread of reed canary grass. Woodlands are managed in a manner that limits the spread of oak wilt and encourages regeneration of oak and hickory.

Recreation

The Paradise Marsh Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:

  • Birding;
  • Cross-country skiing (no designated trail);
  • Hiking (no designated trail);
  • Hunting (especially noted for waterfowl, squirrels, turkeys [Zone 3], rabbits, furbearers, mourning doves [on 8 acres of managed sunflower fields] and deer);
  • Trapping;
  • Wild edibles/gathering; and
  • Wildlife viewing.
Master Plan

The Natural Resources Board approved a new master plan in December 2012 for this property as well as 19 other state fish and wildlife properties and associated state natural areas. These properties are mostly within Columbia County, but portions lie within Dane, Marquette and Sauk counties.

Maps

Download [PDF] a map of this property.

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

Useful links
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