top of page
Navarino Wildlife Area, Shawano and Waupaca Counties, Wisconsin
About Navarino Wildlife Area

Navarino Wildlife Area lies 30 miles west of Green Bay where prairie and agricultural land meet northern forest. The 15,000-acre area has sandy uplands and ridges with intervening marshy depressions. The West Branch of the Shioc River and the Wolf River run through the tract. Fifteen dikes impound water on 1,400 acres, creating open water areas fringed with wetlands.

Among the diverse habitats are prairie, fields, coniferous swamps, bogs, lowland scrub, bottomland hardwoods, pine plantations, and upland forest. Trees include beech, birches, maples, aspen, oak, ash, pines, and hemlock. Sandhill cranes, ducks, geese, muskrat, otter, and beaver inhabit aquatic and wetland areas. Forest wildlife includes woodcock, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, deer, bear, squirrels, cottontail rabbits, and snowshoe hare.

People visit Navarino WA to hunt, watch wildlife, canoe, hike on the extensive trail system, cross-country ski, and attend programs and view displays at Navarino Nature Center.

Improving the Land for Woodcock

Managers have long used timber cutting, water-level manipulation, controlled burning, and plant community restoration to create and improve wildlife habitats on Navarino Wildlife Area.


In spring, prairie grasses will have been beaten down by winter's snow. Male

timberdoodles display here during springtime. The area is east of Navarino

Nature Center.

To benefit woodcock, ruffed grouse, and other young-forest wildlife, an active

timber-management program regenerates stands of hardwoods, including aspen,

with an average of 50 to 100 acres of forest clearcut annually. Since the mid-1970s,

aspen regeneration has been a priority. Between 1990 and 2010, 1,328 acres were

cut. And from 2010 to 2015, 165 acres of aspen were harvested, with another 99 acres marked and sold but not yet cut.

Other areas, including around 100 acres of old farm fields, are being allowed to grow back as old-field habitat, where woodcock can nest, rear young, and feed.

Periodically burning off or mowing prairie and grass fields prevents woody plants from taking over the openings, which are used by woodcock as singing and displaying habitats in spring and as roosting areas in mid- to late summer; 285 acres were burned between 2010 and 2015.

Reports wildlife biologist Kay Brockman-Mederas with the Wisconsin Department

of Natural Resources, which manages the Navarino Wildlife Area: "This year on

April 11 we gave a public program on woodcock at Navarino Nature Center,

which included reading 'Sky Dance' from A Sand County Almanac by Aldo

Leopold, and walking the woodcock trail to see examples of good habitat. We

also checked out a singing ground, where we watched male woodcock

performing their courtship displays. We plan to do the program again on

April 9, 2016."

Managers have selected two sites as focal areas for ongoing woodcock habitat improvement.

On a 720-acre area in the northeast corner of the Wildlife Area, technicians mow and disk trails and existing openings to set back woody growth, renewing these areas as singing and roosting habitat. They will shear off 5 to 10 acres of overmature alder, and mark two 5-acre areas for biomass harvest in a large block of 20-year-old aspen.

In a second area of about 100 acres, near Highway K in the western half of the Wildlife Area, a fecon or mowing machine will clear openings totalling about 3 acres. (The openings are centered on a site area where someone cut trees off at about waist level as part of an illegal marijuana-growing operation.) Nearby, 10 acres of overmature alder will be sheared back. Shearing alder removes old, dying stems and stimulates the shrubs to send up dense new growth that provides excellent habitat.

Intensive management efforts to favor woodcock and other young-forest wildlife will continue in these two focal areas in the future, while ongoing timber harvests in aspen stands create additional habitat throughout

the Wildlife Area.

Funding and Partners

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Navarino Nature Center, Ruffed

Grouse Society, Wildlife Management Institute

How to Visit

Navarino Wildlife Area can be reached from the east and west on Wisconsin

Highway 156, from the south on Highway 187, and from the north on County Highway K.

Walking on the many trails radiating out from the Navarino Nature Center (NNC) will lead a visitor past or through different woodcock habitat types. The area just east of the Center has examples of an aspen clearcut and an alder stand (feeding, brood-rearing, and nesting habitat) and prairie grassland (singing grounds and roosting habitat). NNC hosts a woodcock program each spring, when timberdoodle males are displaying at dawn and dusk, and conducts woodcock and breeding bird surveys.

bottom of page