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Moquah Barrens

No. 83


Photo by E. Epstein


Moquah Barrens lies near the east end of an extensive outwash sand plain in northwestern Wisconsin and features Pine Barrens with jack and red pine with associated red oak, red maple, trembling aspen, large-toothed aspen and white birch. Originally an extensive pine barrens, the Forest Service set aside this mile-square area in the early 1930s as a research site to study natural succession on sandy and sandy loam soils in the absence of fire. Historically, the droughty soils and frequent fires maintained the openness of the barrens.

Today, however, after decades of fire protection, some rather dense forest stands have developed and some of the openings, which were common in the past, are now being filled with woody vegetation. The vegetation varies from large openings dominated by blueberry, bearberry, sweet fern and prairie rose to rather dense stands of jack pine and aspen. In some areas the litter layer has increased and is allowing more mesophytic species, such as sugar maple and black cherry, to invade. The shrub layer is dominated by serviceberry, dewberry, sweet fern blueberry, hazel, honeysuckle and sand cherry. Ground layer herbs include abundant bracken fern, large-leaved aster, Canada mayflower, wintergreen and pearly everlasting.

Breeding bird surveys have shown a gradual change from open barrens species through successional forest species to the closed-forest bird community now present including Connecticut, black-and-white, black-throated green and pine warblers. The Forest Service manages this area and photographic points have been established to record vegetation changes over time. Moquah Barrens is owned by the U.S. Forest Service and was designated a State Natural Area in 1970. This site is also recognized by the Forest Service as an established Research Natural Area.

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for a variety of 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 present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

The good 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 lanes 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 useful tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Non-DNR lands

Entrance fees: For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

Hunting and trapping

This is a non-DNR-owned SNA: Opportunities for hunting and trapping depend on the landowner. Please contact them directly to find out about their rules for hunting and trapping. You can find a link to other owner websites under the Resources tab. More details regarding allowable uses of this non-DNR-owned SNA may be noted above and posted with signs on the property site.

Other activities

Other allowable activities such as - but not limited to camping, geocaching and bicycling are determined by the landowner. Please contact them directly or visit their websites for details.


Within Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Bayfield County. T48N-R7W, Section 23. 616 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of Highway 2 and County E in the Village of Ino, go north on Ino Road (FR 236) 7 miles to the southern boundary of the site. Park on the road.

The DNR's state natural areas program is comprised of lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals. While the majority of 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 shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are 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]

Moquah Barrens is owned by the US Forest Service