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Peter Helland Wildlife Area

Peter Helland Wildlife Area

Peter Helland Wildlife Area is a 3,543-acre property located in Columbia County. Find it 6 miles east of Pardeeville on County Road P. The property consists of approximately 2,700 acres of wetland, 500 acres of grassland, 240 acres of wooded habitat and some shrub and agricultural lands.

Peter Helland Wildlife Area lies in a basin formed by the meltwaters from the last glacial period about 10,000 years ago. Native Americans used the marsh as a hunting ground, likely for prairie chicken, deer, waterfowl and small mammals. Following settlement by European immigrants and the development of drainage and dredging equipment, the marsh was partially drained to allow muck farming. The Department of Natural Resources began acquiring property for the project in 1972 to serve as a goose management area, a satellite unit for the Horicon Marsh.

The property is now used extensively for hunting, especially for deer, pheasant and waterfowl. The wildlife area consists of wetlands, uplands and the north branch of Duck Creek. The wetlands range from wet prairie and sedge meadow to cattail marsh and extensive areas of disturbed marsh dominated by reed canary grass. Shrub-carr with dogwood and willow are interspersed within the low areas. The uplands are former agricultural areas with scattered oak woodlots. Some of the fields are planted with food crops for wildlife with native grassland for nesting cover.

Management

Historically, the primary management objective for Peter Helland Wildlife Area — named for the late Stanton Peter Helland, longtime Natural Resources Board member and Wisconsin Dells community advocate — was to provide hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities. As lands were acquired, marginal farm fields were converted to prairie provide additional wildlife habitat and hunting opportunity. Numerous wetland restorations occurred to create the semi-marsh habitat that is present today.

Current management objectives focus on protecting the watershed of Duck Creek and managing for presettlement vegetation types. This includes maintaining existing prairies, savannas and sedge meadows 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 black locust 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 aggressive invasive species. Woodlands are managed in a manner that limits the spread of oak wilt and encourages regeneration of oak and hickory.

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

Recreation

The Peter Helland Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:

  • Birding;
  • Cross-country skiing (no designated trail);
  • Canoeing;
  • Hiking (no designated trail);
  • Hunting (especially noted for waterfowl, squirrels, deer, rabbits, furbearers, pheasants, turkeys [Zone 3] and mourning doves);
  • Trapping;
  • Wild edibles/gathering; and
  • Wildlife viewing.

Reserve the Peter Helland Wildlife Area disabled waterfowl blind

Hunters with disabilities are now able to reserve an accessible hunting blind on the Peter Helland Wildlife Area. Columbia County, Lodi High School and DNR teamed together to provide a hunting blind on a small restored flowage off of Sawyer Road.

Reservations will be accepted one week in advance. Once your reservation is made, you will be provided a combination for the lock that will unlock a gate that will allow you to drive on the dike (off Sawyer Road). Hunting is limited to a disabled hunter and one assistant.

The access to the blind is mowed so hunters can drive right to the blind, their vehicle will then have to drive down the dike and turn around near the cattle pasture. There is a parking lot on the west side of Sawyer Road just north of the dike where vehicles should be parked. The blind is on the edge of fairly deep water. Those assisting the disabled hunter will either want to bring along a skiff to retrieve decoys or keep decoys within reach of the shore. A dog is recommended for bird retrieval.

The blind can be reserved by calling 920-387-7860.

Maps

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

Useful links

Find out more about how to adopt this wildlife area.