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Outwash Plains Conservation

Glaciated Outwash Plains and Glacial Lakebeds: If people of earth want pine-oak barrens, then Wisconsin is the place to accomplish the goal. Jack pine and northern pin oak barrens develop on glacial outwash sand and gravel soils. Wisconsin holds more than 70% of the pine-oak barrens in the world with the remainder being found in Minnesota, Michigan and Ontario. The New Jersey Pine Barrens developed on ocean born sands and are dominated by pitch pine with the water table near the surface – a much different natural community.


Prior to European settlement wild fires would consume tens of thousands of acres of pine and oaks setting the rejuvenation phase of barrens development to start. Jack pine needs fire to open of tightly packed cones to disperse the seed. Young oaks sprout from grubs. Over the next few decades, the trees grow with an occasional light intensity ground fire or two. When the pines mature (between fifty to 90 years later), they are susceptible to invasion by budworm, which kill many trees and dries the fuel for the next catastrophic fire. Today this process cannot occur.


Three primary factors provide the conservation challenge. Wildlife areas manage their properties for the early stages of the rejuvenation with a focus on keeping critters that thrive in the early stage (i.e. Sharp-tailed Grouse) around. County Forests manage for the later stages, because value lies in mature not baby trees. Furthermore, they prefer red pine to jack pine, because there is more value to the product and red pine does not have budworm concerns. Finally, the lakes in the region are crystal clear, which draws vacationers and tourists. All three land use approaches have their advocates, but they are usually in conflict. Most often, these approaches are in conflict with economics almost always winning. Large scale barrens management needs cooperation between public wildlife areas, county forest and industrial forests.


These needed conversations are beyond the focus of this document. Smaller areas harboring a subset of the barrens diversity still has opportunities for conservation action, which is the focus of this paper. The Great Wisconsin Swamp also has a similar conservation dilemma. The largest and most intact portion of the swamp is in either large ownership by cranberry operations or in public land. The Bear Bluff area needs a long-term public-private partnership to address conservation in this region, which is highly vulnerable to a warming climate. Smaller areas harboring a subset of the wetlands diversity still has opportunities for conservation action.


To this end, Great Nature Wisconsin LLC presents the best places to achieve conservation. Individual pages in the focal sites section are locations with size to accommodate most of the barrens or wetland species. Pdfs on this page along with maps indicate places with some level of present protection and management that needs additional consideration. Finally, bulleted lists within the pdfs are places, small in scope or they have mostly complete protection in place.


Xerix Forest Sites:




Pine-oak Barrens Sites:





Peatlands Sites:






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