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Tichigan Wildlife Area


Tichigan Wildlife Area is a 1,562-acre property in northwest Racine County, northwest of the Village of Waterford. This property is the largest and most diverse wildlife property in the county. Habitat types include grasslands, cattail marsh, oak woodland, wet meadow, open oak woods, fens, agricultural fields, shallow marsh, pine plantation and upland and lowland shrubs. This variety provides excellent habitat for game and non-game species. Hunters can pursue game species like deer, turkey, stocked pheasants, small game, doves and waterfowl. Hunters also have access to the only leased VPA site in Racine County, the 98-acre Ranke parcel.

An No Entry Refuge on this site sits adjacent to the Fox River. It contains a 25-acre impoundment that is managed for waterfowl. The impoundment provides foraging and a resting place for ducks such as Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Blue-Winged and Green-Winged Teal, Wood Duck, and Gadwall.  

The numerous habitat types and the proximity of the Fox River and Tichigan Lake Impoundment offer great bird-watching and wildlife-viewing opportunities. Upland areas on the property such as grasslands and oak forests offer viewing of species such as Henslow’s Sparrow, Meadowlark, Eastern Kingbird, Bluebird, Red-Headed Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Warblers, and Vireos. The shallow lake, wetland and marsh edge habitats are excellent areas for viewing wetland bird species such as Great Egrets, Least Bittern, Terns, Teal, Wood Duck, Mallard, Wilson's Phalarope, White-Rumped Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Rails, White Pelican, Bald Eagle, Osprey, and Mergansers.   

In 2016, an Osprey platform was installed on the refuge on the north side of the impoundment. The platform has had an active nest since 2017. It provides an excellent opportunity to watch Osprey nesting activities. While visiting, please observe the nest platform from a distance so as not to disturb the birds.

In 2017, the Fisheries program started a project to improve the habitat in Tichigan Creek for Brook Trout. This is the only stream in Racine County with suitable water temperatures for the native trout. Since 2017 Fisheries staff have been carrying out habitat work and started stocking the creek with Brook Trout in 2018. The southernmost parking lot on Marsh Road provides access to the stream. 

Management Objectives

The Tichigan Wildlife Area is identified as a place for managing high-quality wetland communities of statewide significance within the Southeast Glacial Plains Ecological Landscape according to Wisconsin's Wildlife Action Plan. It is managed to provide opportunities for public hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor recreation while protecting the qualities of the unique native communities and associated species found on the property. Grasslands 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. Shelterwood harvest and thinning improvement cuts are used to maintain and regenerate oak and central hardwoods. Populations of invasive species are controlled or eliminated by cutting, pulling, burning, herbicide treatment and/or biocontrol.

The 190-acre refuge area contains a 25-acre impoundment that is managed for waterfowl, providing a feeding and resting area for migrating birds. A portion of the impoundment, 5-10 6 – 8 acres, is planted with Japanese millet wetland seed mix in the spring, and the impoundment is flooded before the waterfowl season opens in the fall. The impoundment area borders Tichigan Lake impoundment and the Fox River, with the launch access on the north side of the refuge. The wildlife refuge area is closed to all entry from Sept. 1- Dec. 31. The wet soil management work is currently being supported by the Fox River Chapter of Wings Over Wisconsin through an Adopt-A-Wildlife Area agreement.

The Fisheries program has been carrying out in-stream habitat work on Tichigan Creek to benefit Brook trout. Work has included clearing brush along the banks; installing bio-logs to narrow the stream corridor; and upgrading culverts to improve flow.  

The Tichigan Marsh in pre-settlement times was part of the Fox River system and formed an extensive emergent marsh. It was an area that supported a variety of wildlife species. As settlers moved in, the landscape changed (e.g., ditching, roads, farming, etc.), and in 1838 a dam was built on the Fox River in Waterford, approximately 4 miles downstream from the current wildlife area. The dam created a 351-acre lake that abuts the marsh and wildlife area, reducing the size and nature of the marsh. It is now the largest emergent marsh in Racine County.

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


The Tichigan Wildlife Area offers many recreational opportunities:

  • Birding
  • Boating (motorized and non-motorized)
  • Cross-country skiing (no designated trail)
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing (Tichigan Creek class III trout stream and Tichigan Lake)
  • Hiking (no designated trail)
  • Hunting (noted: for deer, waterfowl, turkey, pheasant [noon closure] and small game)
  • Snowmobiling trail
  • Trapping
  • Wildlife viewing


  • Bathroom: No
  • Parking Lot: Yes, multiple
  • Campground: No
  • Trails: Non-designated
  • Other: Boat launch, part of the National Trail System's Fabulous Fox! Water Trail 


Download a map of this property.

Parking lots can be found on Marsh Road, Bridge Drive, North Lake Drive, Highway 83 and Tichigan Road. Hunters can gain access to the shoreline on the river and shoreline and islands on the lake impoundment via the Tichigan Boat launch located off Bridge Drive.


Tichigan Wildlife Area Main Parking Lot

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

Adopt a Fish or Wildlife Area


This wildlife area has been adopted by the Southeast Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited.