Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area
SEBSNA is unique in having more recreational facilities than many SNA’s in Wisconsin. However, there are no bathroom facilities, and most vehicle access lanes and parking lots are inaccessible in the winter (they are not plowed). A GPS unit or compass and detailed topographic map are useful tools for exploring SEBSNA.
· Camping (one primitive campsite available on a first-come first-served basis)
· Canoeing, kayaking or other non-motorized boat
· Hiking (firebreaks are maintained semi-annually; access by foot, ski, or snowshoe)
· Hunting, fishing and trapping
· Research (permit required)
· Wild edibles (collection of wild edibles by hand for the purpose of personal consumption)
Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area (SEBSNA) was established in 1995 to protect an extensive landscape of bracken grassland or ‘barrens’. Bracken grassland is a regionally unique type of pine barrens that is only present in northeastern Wisconsin. Consisting of a mosaic of six different natural communities, SEBSNA includes bracken grassland habitat and associated flora and fauna that require large expanses of open vegetation. The lower reaches of the Pine River, a designated Wild River, traverse the site, and the Menominee River forms the property’s eastern boundary. The property encompasses 8,418 acres, including a 1,305-acre easement owned by We Energies.
Bracken grasslands occur in northern Wisconsin on upland sites with infertile sandy soils. The origin of this natural community type is unclear, but includes an interacting mix of topographic and soil conditions, past disturbances, and perhaps some degree of allelopathy (chemical inhibition of one plant by another) due to the abundance of bracken fern. The community is fire-dependent and was probably maintained historically by frequent ground fires and frost during the growing season in low-lying ‘frost pockets’. Bracken grassland habitats may occur as a complex mosaic of grassy or shrubby openings interspersed with patches of jack pine, red pine, northern pin oak, aspen, and cherry.