The Barrens 
The Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area (NBWA) is a 5,050 acre property located in the northeast corner of Burnett County, northwestern Wisconsin, consisting of two parcels. These are referred to as the north unit and the south unit. This property is leased by the State of Wisconsin from Burnett County. The north unit lies 7 miles east of Highway 35 on St. Croix Trail Road or 11 miles west of Minong. The south unit is 2 miles to the south and west of the north unit on Namekagon Road and Springbrook Trail. The St. Croix River flows within a mile to the west of the barrens while the Namekagon River lies between the North and South Unit. Both rivers are designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The NBWA is part of the Northwest Sands Area of northwest Wisconsin, and contains mainly pine barrens community habitat. This community type is globally rare and includes rich and diverse prairie flora and fauna. Two trout streams, Beaver Creek and Clemens Creek, originate from springs on the north unit and flow to the nearby St. Croix River. The surrounding lands are mainly Burnett County Forest and industrial forests owned by Mosinee Paper Company, and contain mostly jack pine, scrub oak, and red pine plantation forests (information borrowed from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website). Many old-timers in the area refer to the entire sandy region found in the area as “the barrens” or “the pine barrens.” They often refer to the very young habitat found after a fire as “brush prairie.” Perhaps more frequently, people refer only to the recently burned areas as barrens. The region is noted for having very sandy, droughty soils. Prior to modern fire control techniques much of this area burned quite frequently either by acts of nature, such as lightning strikes, or was intentionally burned by humans. Early settlers frequently set fires to clear land for farming. Prior to this, Native Americans burned the region to attract game animals, stimulate blueberry production, control biting insects, and ease cross country travel. These frequent fires kept much of the landscape in a mixture of brush, prairie plants, and very short oak or pine. Pine barrens covered 7% of the land, or 2.3 million acres, prior to the European settlement. Oak barrens covered 5%, or 1.8 million acres. As of 1995, approximately 10,000 acres of good quality pine and oak barrens remained at 65 Wisconsin sites. To date, the total estimate of remaining pine and oak barrens is 50,000 acres, but much of it is degraded. Most remaining pine and oak barrens exist as small, isolated fragments on approximately a dozen state- or federally-managed areas. These fragments may indicate that a larger area of the surrounding landscape has the potential to return to a barrens stage. (Info taken from Wisconsin Ecological Landscapes Handbook)..

Its Friends
Numerous National Parks, State Parks, and other areas have a Friends group to promote the knowledge, appreciation, and perpetuation of resources. Friends of the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area (FNBWA) share these objectives for Lake States barrens in general, and the Namekagon Barrens in particular. FNBWA will provide information via newsletter, website, newspaper articles, tours, and other public events. Many resources from nearby areas, including other Friends groups, are applicable to Namekagon Barrens with only minor modification. 
FNBWA News, Views, Events, and BLOG

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FNBWA Accomplishments:
  • Donate to the Conservation Fund land addition
  • Support/promote NBWA and other barrens habitat expansion
  • Support DNR ownership of the NBWA
  • Support NBWA and other barrens management
  • Support NW Sands properties master planning
  • Support sharp-tailed grouse (STG) management plan
  • Promote barrens corridors between NBWA, Crex, and DCWA
  • Help fund new STG viewing blinds and coordinate viewing blind reservations
  • Donate to STG research funding
  • Donate to invasive species control
  • Erect kiosks on NBWA north and south units
  • Establish NBWA auto tour for public
  • Develop photo book of NBWA
  • Develop FNBWA public display board
  • Sponsor NBWA educational events, picnic, and presentations for neighbors of the barrens
  • Partner in NW WI Barrens brochure production
  • Assist with barrens cabin restoration and maintenance
  • Maintain and monitor bluebird trail
  • Sponsor barrens field trips, including birding, butterfies, flora, hiking, wolf howling, photography, wild edibles, mushrooms
  • Assist monitoring plant and wildlife populations

Be a friend of the Barrens.  Tell a friend about the Barrens and its Friends. 

(to contact FNBWA see Contact Us)