About Crex Meadows

A Wetland Gem® in Northwest Wisconsin

About Crex Meadows

Crex Meadows is a 30,000 acre property in Burnett County, WI that is intensively managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-Bureau of Wildlife Management. This unique area is home to thousands of acres of restored wetland and brush prairie. Originally part of the Wisconsin Pine Barrens, Crex Meadows is now the state's largest remaining portion of this globally endangered ecosystem. Because of this habitat, Crex Meadows is home to over 280 species of birds, 720 species of plants, over 96 species of butterfly and a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, and insects. With over 100,000 visitors year-round, Crex Meadows is your wildlife destination for hunting, trapping, education and recreation. 

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About Friends of Crex

The Friends of Crex is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 1984 for the purpose of assisting with and supporting wildlife education and wildlife management activities at Crex Meadows and the other Glacial Lake Grantsburg properties.  We provide volunteer and financial assistance needed to expand the wildlife education program and assist with wildlife management activities at Crex.  We are composed of individuals from many different backgrounds interested in increasing public understanding, appreciation, support, and enjoyment of wildlife.  With hundreds of active members, the Friends of Crex is one of the largest friends groups associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  

Each year, Friends of Crex members provide hundreds of hours of volunteer assistance and thousands of dollars of financial support.  Their financial support has allowed the Crex staff to purchase equipment, supplies, and displays, and fund a  Friends of Crex Coordinator at the Visitor Center.  

Mission

 To support and assist the Wisconsin DNR with wildlife management and wildlife conservation education & outreach at Crex Meadows, Fish Lake, and Amsterdam Sloughs Wildlife Areas. 

Vision

 Wildlife conservation education and management that generates a land and wildlife ethic into perpetuity.

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History of Crex Meadows

The famous marshes and large, sandy plains of Crex Meadows were created from a retreating glacier over 13,000 years ago. The wildlife area is part of a larger system known as the Northwest Wisconsin Pine Barrens which extends from northern Polk County to southern Bayfield County. 

The mid-1800s brought settlers who tried farming the sandy soil with not much success. 

Large-scale drainage of wetlands in the 1890s caused a decline in the number of nesting and migrant waterfowl and other wetland animals.

In 1912, the Crex Carpet Co., an eastern corporation that produced grass rugs, purchased 23,000 acres in the location we now know as Crex Meadows. When linoleum floor covering became popular, the Crex Carpet Co. went bankrupt in 1933 but the name Crex remained. After a series of failed drainage and agricultural attempts, the state of Wisconsin purchased 12,000 acres to start the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area. Today, Crex Meadows sees over 100,000 visitors a year who enjoy the wildlife area for hunting, trapping and recreational use.

Our Partners

The Friends of Crex partners with other non-profit conservation organizations, including Ducks Unlimited, Whitetails Unlimited and the Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, as well as the St. Croix River Association, the Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society, Friends of the Namekagon Barrens, and the Friends of Douglas County Wildlife Area.  See below for more information about these great conservation groups.

Ducks Unlimited

The mission of Ducks Unlimited, founded in 1936 by a group of hunter/conservationists, is “to fulfill the annual life cycle needs of North American waterfowl by protecting, enhancing, restoring and managing important wetlands and associated uplands”. The Crex Meadows Chapter of Ducks Unlimited (CMDU) was formed in 1981 in Grantsburg and meets in the Crex Meadows Wildlife Education and Visitor Center.

Over the years, CMDU has raised in excess of $300,000 for waterfowl and wetlands. In turn, Ducks Unlimited has contributed more than twice that amount (over $700,000) for wetland restoration and enhancement projects in the Glacial Lake Grantsburg Wildlife Management Complex (Crex Meadows, Fish Lake, Amsterdam Sloughs, and Danbury wildlife areas).

Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society

The Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society (WSGS) was born in 1990 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FOC in 2001. This formal document describes levels of cooperation between the two conservation groups. The FOC provides a ‘home’ for the WSGS in the Crex Center and administrative support. In return, the WSGS provides financial compensation to the FOC for that support and other projects.

The Friends of Crex, Ducks Unlimited, and the Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, have a common goal – the conservation and preservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat in the Glacial Lake Grantsburg Wildlife Complex. And all three groups have many common members. 

If you are interested in more information on the Wisconsin Sharp-tail Grouse Society or the Crex Meadows Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, you may contact Ken Jonas at kenjon@centrurytel.net and Dave Evenson at daveshirleyanne@gmail.com

Visit the Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society webpage at www.wisharptails.org.

The Friends of the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area

Friends of NBWA supports the 5,050 acre property located in the northeast corner of Burnett County, northwestern Wisconsin, consisting of two parcels. 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). The NBWA has a strong population of Sharp-tailed Grouse and offer viewing blinds for the public.  You can get more information about reserving a blind at their website.

The Friends of Douglas County Wildlife Area

The Friends of Douglas County Wildlife Area, also known as Friends of the Bird Sanctuary, supports The Bird Sanctuary, officially called the Douglas County Wildlife Management Area (DCWMA), which is a 4,000 acre property managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and leased from Douglas County (except for 994 acres that are state owned). 240 acres of the property were designated the Solon Springs Sharptail Barrens State Natural Area by the DNR in 1968.  This is another barrens property and hosts many barrens, marsh and forest species.

A partnership between The Friends of Crex, Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, Friends of the Namekagon Barrens, Friends of the Bird Sanctuary and the St. Croix River Association was formed to develop a plan to connect the Northwest Wisconsin Barrens communities to each other. 

The St. Croix River Association 

The St. Croix River Association is a non-profit group dedicated to protect and restore the St. Croix River watershed.  Members are from both sides of the river, and meet often to discuss issues pertaining to water quality, conservation of adjacent land, and natural and national heritage.  They have many activities planned throughout the year for the public, including seminars on conservation, and an annual River Paddle. 

The Gaylord Nelson Audubon Chapter

The Gaylord Nelson Audubon Chapter mission mirrors that of the National Audubon Society, which is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the Earth’s biological diversity. Gaylord Nelson Audubon serves members in seven northwestern Wisconsin counties, including Burnett and Polk Counties. They lead several field trips each year, and have many speakers lined up all year long at their headquarters in St. Croix Falls.

Whitetails Unlimited

Founded in 1982, Whitetails Unlimited is a national non-profit conservation organization that has remained true to its mission and has made great strides in the field of conservation. We have gained the reputation of being the nation's premier organization dedicating our resources to the betterment of the white-tailed deer and its environment. Their purpose is to raise funds in support of... (1) educational programs; (2) habitat conservation, and (3) preservation of the hunting tradition for the direct benefit of the white-tailed deer and other wildlife.

Recreation

Bird Watching

Crex Meadows is listed as one of the top 500 birding spots to visit in the United States. There are over 280 species that use the property, and many are seen consistently each year. Stop by the visitor’s center for up-to-date bird sighting information.  

Hunting and Trapping

Many people enjoy the area for hunting and trapping, which is allowed on all three Glacial Lake Grantsburg wildlife areas. 

Kayaking and Canoeing

If you're looking for a new wildlife viewing experience in Crex Meadows, try kayaking or canoeing on one of our flowages.

Biking

Bring your bike to Crex Meadows for a quieter way to explore the area.

Wildflowers

Crex Meadows is host to a wide variety of wildflowers, all of which bloom at different times. You never know what wildflowers you might find on your next visit! 

Snowshoeing

Pass the long winter days at Crex Meadows and view winter wildlife from your snowshoes. 

 

Wildlife Viewing

Other than birds, there are a variety of species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects that visitors can view throughout the properties. 

 

Hiking

Several hiking trails are offered on Crex Meadows for visitors to enjoy. They vary in length, ranging from about 1 mile to 3.5 miles, but all are easy to walk. Stop by the visitor center and get a trail map before you begin!

Camping

From September 1 to December 31, visitors can camp at the rest area at Crex Meadows. It is a great option for those who hunt on the property, but it can also be an exciting experience for early-rising wildlife watchers and photographers.

Animal Tracking

Are you looking for a new way to experience wildlife? You're in luck! Crex Meadows, Fish Lake and Amsterdam Sloughs are great places to look for animal tracks. Get off the beaten path and see what you can find.

Wildlife Photography

Crex Meadows is an excellent place for wildlife photography. There is a wide variety of wildlife and landscape throughout every season for photography enthusiasts to capture. 

Wisconsin DNR

"In keeping with our mission, the DNR is dedicated to working with the citizens and businesses of Wisconsin while preserving and enhancing the natural resources of Wisconsin. In partnership with individuals and organizations, DNR staff manage fish, wildlife, forests, parks, air and water resources while promoting a healthy, sustainable environment and a full range of outdoor opportunities."  --Wisconsin DNR

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Five reasons to Keep Wildlife Wild

1. Stress: Wild animals view people and domestic animals as predators and are highly stressed by the sights, sounds and smells of being in close proximity to humans or domestic animals. This stress can cause serious health problems, and even death, for a wild animal.

2. Diet: Wild animals have specialized dietary needs that are not easily met in captivity. Young wild animals especially require a specific, complete diet; otherwise they are at a high risk of suffering serious nutritional deficiencies that can leave them deformed for life. Do not feed a wild animal 'human food items' because non-natural food items will most likely cause more harm and will not provide nutritional benefits.

3. Disease: Wild animals carry many different diseases and parasites, some of which are transmissible to domestic animals and even humans.

4. Habituation/non-natural behavior development: Wild animals need to learn normal social behaviors from their own species. Wild animals that learn non-normal behaviors from humans or domestic animals will likely not survive if they are released because they have not learned the correct survival skills, they have lost their natural fear of humans and predators and they may be abnormally habituated to human activity. As young animals grow into adults, they can still demonstrate dangerous wild animal behaviors that can threaten human and domestic animal safety.

5. It's illegal: Most wild animals are protected under state and federal laws and cannot be taken from the wild or possessed by unauthorized citizens. Raising a wild animal as a pet is not only against laws and regulations, but it is not doing the right thing for the animal. Wisconsin's captive wildlife regulations allow a citizen to possess a wild animal for up to 24 hours for the purpose of transferring that animal to an appropriately licensed individual, such as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian. Even though wild animals are cute, they should not be viewed as pets.

"Wisconsin's year-round outdoor activities bring people outside to enjoy the natural environment and have an opportunity to view and appreciate wildlife resources. Wild animals are valued by many, and it's important to observe them at a respectful distance to keep them wild and allow for their life in the wild to continue." --WDNR

Wisconsin Wildlife Areas (from WI DNR)

Wisconsin can take pride in its vast treasure of natural resources, particularly its wildlife. Since 1876, Wisconsin has been acquiring land to meet conservation and recreation needs. Public lands managed by the DNR provide many opportunities and public spaces for you and your family to hunt, fish, trap, hike, canoe or watch and photograph wildlife.

All wildlife areas are managed to sustain the wildlife and natural communities found on the properties and to provide a full range of traditional outdoor recreational uses. These include hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and nature study. Edible fruits, edible nuts, wild mushrooms, wild asparagus and watercress may be removed by hand without a permit for the purpose of personal consumption by the collector. Dog training or trialing (hunting dog competitions) may be allowed by permit. A limited number of properties allow additional outdoor recreation at designated locations; like camping, bicycling, horseback riding and snowmobiling.

Wildlife Area legal information (from WI DNR)

Section 23.09 (2) (d) 3., State Stats., provides legislative authority and direction for the acquisition and management of state wildlife areas. The primary purpose of state wildlife areas as stated in this statute is to provide "areas in which any citizen may hunt, trap or fish". Section 23.11 (1), Stats., provides for the general care, protection and supervision of state lands. Section 23.30, Stats., deals with the provisions of the outdoor recreation program.

The management and uses of state wildlife areas are further defined in NR 1.51. WI Admin Code. While hunting and trapping are the primary public uses for wildlife areas; other uses, such as walking, nature study, berry picking, and other low-impact recreational activities are also allowed. Other compatible open-space uses may be allowed under the property's Master Plan when they do not detract from the primary purpose of the property; however, they may be limited in time and location to avoid interference with wildlife production or survival and public hunting and trapping.

Contact Us

We would love to hear from you! 

Visitor Center Hours

Closed most holidays.

SUMMER (Mid June-Labor Day)

Weekdays: 8:00 am- 4:00 pm
Weekends: 10:00 am-4:00 pm

SPRING (April-Mid June)

Weekdays: 9:00 am-5:30 pm
Weekends: 10:00 am- 4:00 pm

FALL (Labor Day-October 31st)

Weekdays: 9:00 am- 5:30 pm
Weekends: 10:00 am- 4:00 pm

WINTER (November-March)

Weekdays: 8:00 am-4:00pm
Weekends: CLOSED