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Straight Lake Wildlife Area

Straight Lake Wildlife Area is a 1,325-acre property located in Polk County. Straight Lake Wildlife Area and Straight Lake State Park are contiguous properties.

Much of the Straight Lake Wildlife Area is upland and consists mostly of white and red oak, red maple, sugar maple and basswood. The upland forest consists primarily of red oak overstory and an understory of sugar maple, basswood, ironwood and white birch. Smaller stands of aspen, red pine and swamp hardwood also are present. The property also contains three flowages and associated wetlands and grasslands.

Historically, this area was a mix of northern hardwoods with a predominance of red oak and white pine. The natural disturbance regime prior to European settlement was mostly fire and some wind-throw. Fire, at longer intervals of 100 years, maintained the red oak, white and red pine and white birch component in this area. Existing northern hardwood/oak stands are 90-plus years of age and were established at the turn of the century during the cut-over era. There is some evidence of fire from the charred stumps existing in the area. Once the area was settled, fire suppression stopped the natural fire regime of the region.

No bikes are allowed on the property.

Management Objectives

Two complimentary goals of the Straight Lake Wildlife Area are to provide wildlife-based recreation, including hunting, trapping and wildlife observation and to increase the populations of resident and migratory wildlife species through habitat improvement. Additional objectives are to provide wildlife-based interpretive and educational opportunities and to monitor wildlife population trends as well as public use of the property through periodic surveys. Habitat management objectives for the property include:

  • Providing a predominantly oak-northern hardwood forest comprised of a variety of age classes (to 150 years) as habitat for forest game and other forest wildlife species;
  • Maintaining and enhancing age structure of the existing oak-northern hardwood forest habitat;
  • Maintaining existing aspen stands;
  • Providing extensive grasslands adjacent to the two southern impoundments for grassland dependent wildlife species and waterfowl nesting cover;
  • Maintaining and establishing a biologically diverse marsh habitat that will be beneficial for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland-dependent species;
  • Enlarging the patch-size of the grasslands to enhance their functional value for grassland-dependent wildlife species;
  • Providing scattered aspen/oak forest habitat in a variety of age classes ranging from 0 to 120 years.

Management activities can include timber harvests (selection harvests, group harvests, small patch clear-cut harvests and shelterwood harvests), mechanical scarification, tree planting, site preparation and grassland planting, herbicides, mowing and prescribed burning.

For more information, visit the master planning for this and other wildlife areas.

Unique Considerations

The proximity to Straight Lake State Park provides access to a variety of additional recreational opportunities including camping. Straight Lake is also an Important Bird Area [exit DNR].

A number of unique geological features with regional and statewide significance are found within and nearby these properties. The Straight River Tunnel Channel is connected to the Late St. Croix Moraines zone, which consists of hummocky outwash plains and ice-walled plains. This tunnel channel was formed between 15,000-18,000 years ago when sub-glacially derived melt water was forced under extreme pressure towards the glacier's margin. The Straight River Tunnel Channel is considered to be the finest example of this rare glacial phenomenon in Wisconsin.


The Straight Lake Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:

  • Birding;
  • Cross-country skiing (no designated trail);
  • Fishing;
  • Hiking (no designated trail);
  • Hunting (especially noted for deer, turkey, bear, rabbits, squirrels, ruffed grouse, woodcock and waterfowl);
  • Trapping;
  • Wild edibles/gathering; and
  • Wildlife viewing.

Note: No bikes are allowed on the property.


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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