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Lower Wisconsin State Riverway

A decade of cooperative effort between citizens, environmental groups, politicians and the DNR ended successfully with the passage of the law establishing the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway (LWSR) and the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board [exit DNR] in 1989. Our goal is to provide a quality public use area for unique river corridor activities and compatible recreational pursuits; maintain the generally natural and scenic landscape of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway; and manage the corridor's natural resources for the long-term benefit of the citizens of the area and state.

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway boundary contains 95,000 acres, of which over 45,000 are in state ownership. The management of the area is a team effort by wildlife managers, fisheries staff, foresters, park managers, wardens, land agents and natural resource specialists. The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board is responsible for the scenic protection of the river valley.

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway is now recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the United States and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Property Vision

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway is an ecological landscape of continental significance, conserving a broad assemblage of important and rare natural communities and plant and animal species. The property provides a mosaic of important and diverse habitats for both common and rare species at a level found in few other locations.

Encompassing one of the longest reaches of free-flowing rivers remaining in the Midwest, the riverway's broad waters, islands and sandbars, sloughs, wetlands and floodplain forests, prairies and flanking hills and bluffs make this scenic treasure a truly unique recreational resource that's prized by nearby residents and visitors from across the state and beyond. The riverway offers exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities in primarily lightly developed settings, provided in ways that sustain the corridor's exceptional ecological values. Within this context, the riverway's abundant natural and recreational resources provide important contributions to local and regional economies.

Property Goals

Goal 1: At a landscape scale, maintain and enhance the ecological function and exceptional values of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, specifically the diversity of high quality natural communities in a continuum of connected habitats from river to hill top.

Goal 2: Protect and enhance natural communities of high importance, particularly the closed-canopy older forest, southern-mesic forest, floodplain forest, oak barrens, dry prairie, oak woodland, oak openings, open wetlands and aquatic features such as springs and seeps, oxbow lakes, sloughs and mussel beds.

Goal 3: Protect and enhance habitat for common wildlife and for wildlife species of greatest conservation need, including forest interior birds, grassland birds, rare fish, reptiles and amphibians, rare aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, and bats.

Goal 4: Maintain and enhance the largely undeveloped natural scenic beauty of the LWSR, particularly those areas visible from the river.

Goal 5: Manage forest lands using principles of sustainable forestry to support habitat and scenic management goals and to provide a variety of renewable forest products.

Goal 6: Provide opportunities for high-quality, nature-based open-space recreational uses that are compatible with the property's capabilities and the ecological and habitat management goals. Nature-based activities are uses such as hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, fishing, paddling, picnicking, camping, hiking, equestrian use and environmental interpretation and education.

Goal 7: Provide access to recreational opportunities for people of all ages and physical abilities in ways that are sustainable and protect the ecological resources and unique features of the riverway.

Goal 8: Protect — and interpret where appropriate — historic, cultural and archaeological resources.

Goal 9: Contribute benefits to local and regional economies through management of wildlife and recreational resources and sustainably produced forest products.