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Komensky Barrens

No. 695




Within the Black River State Forest, Jackson County. T22N-R2W, Sections 19, 29, 30. T22N-R3W, Sections 13-16, 23-25. 1,831 acres.


Komensky Barrens features the largest pine barrens complex on the Black River State Forest and is likely one of the largest in the Central Sand Plains Ecological Landscape and the state of Wisconsin.

An exceptional number of indicator plant species are present, putting the site in the highest possible tier for this barrens ecological integrity metric (O'Connor et al. 2019). Rare species present within the area include four butterflies, two additional invertebrates, three birds, two reptiles, one small mammal and four plants. Notably, this site contains the largest population of a federally threatened butterfly in the Black River State Forest.

Plant diversity in the barrens is very high relative to other Black River State Forest areas, and the site supports numerous rare species. The site includes partially closed-canopy areas dominated by jack pine and black oak and more open brushy areas with jack pine, black oak, and locally dense American hazelnut and blackberry.

Two stands have been managed to maintain available habitat for rare butterflies. One stand in the northeast portion of the primary site was harvested in 2016 and scarified to promote jack pine regeneration and is a mix of sparse jack pine, locally dense oak resprouts and hazelnut.

Barrens indicator plants are common across the site, including species such as sky-blue aster, New Jersey tea, hoary puccoon, prairie coreopsis, rough blazing star, cylindrical blazing star, showy goldenrod, white goldenrod, stiff goldenrod and western sunflower. Prairie grasses are also common in openings, including big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian grass, poverty oats and Kalm's brome. Komensky Barrens is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2023.

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for various recreational activities, as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if established, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is available, it will usually be noted on the SNA map under the Maps tab. A compass, topographic map, or GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

The majority of SNAs are isolated and have few or no facilities. Some SNAs have vehicle access lanes or parking lots, but their accessibility may vary depending on weather conditions. Parking lots and roads are not plowed during winter. Hiking trails may be nonexistent or consist of undeveloped footpaths. A GPS unit or compass and a detailed topographic map are valuable tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Entrance fees: Except for Parfrey's Glen, the Cambrian Outlook in the Dells of the Wisconsin River, SNAs within State Parks and some within State Forests, all other DNR-owned SNAs do not have any admission fees.

Allowable Activities: DNR-Owned Land

The activities listed below are generally allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted above and posted with signs on the property site.

Prohibited Activities: All SNAs

  • Camping and campfires
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material, alive or dead.
  • Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants, including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles, except on trails and roadways designated for their use.

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR].

Driving Directions

From the intersection of County Highways E and K in Hatfield, go south on County K for 1.75 miles, then west on Palm Road for 1.4 miles. The site lies east and west of the road.

The DNR's state natural areas program comprises lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals. While most SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities.

Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details. The data on these maps have been obtained from various sources of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries. To create your custom map where you can zoom to a specific location, please use the DNR's Mapping Application.

Property Map [PDF]

Komensky Barrens is owned by the Wisconsin DNR