Wauzeka Bottoms State Natural Area
Part of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, Wauzeka Bottoms contains an extensive stand of mature floodplain forest on the north side of the Wisconsin River. The canopy is dominated by silver maple, swamp white oak, river birch, and green ash, with lesser amounts of hackberry, American elm, honey locust, cottonwood, black willow, yellowbud hickory, and basswood. The structure varies from closed canopy with an open understory to semi-open canopy with brushy understory of button bush, winterberry, elderberry, and prickly ash where the canopy is broken due to running sloughs, oxbow lakes, and beaver ponds. Lianas of poison ivy, wild grape, and Virginia creeper proliferate with a rich herbaceous layer of wood nettle, sedges, grasses, cardinal-flower, green dragon, and false dragonhead. The forest supports a diverse avifauna with numerous rare birds: red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus), yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea), cerulean (Dendroica cerulea), Kentucky (Oporornis formosus), and prothonotary (Protonotaria citrea) warblers. Other resident birds include pileated woodpecker, blue-gray gnatcatcher, brown creeper, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and hooded merganser. A state-threatened reptile has also been seen. One state-endangered mussel species inhabits the Wisconsin River which forms the southern boundary of the site, along with the yellow sandshell, three ridge, fragile papershell, stout floater, squawfoot, pink heelsplitter, pink papershell, and salamander mussel. Wauzeka Bottoms is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1989.