Welcome to the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area

The Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area (NBWA) is a 6,428-acre property located in the far northern portions of Burnett and Washburn Counties in northwestern Wisconsin. The wildlife area’s northern edge is at the intersection of the Douglas, Burnett, and Washburn County lines.

This Wildlife Area is a small section of rare “barrens” ecosystem, part of the Northwest Sands that stretch from Lake Superior to St. Croix Falls. The topography and features of this area were formed by a glacier more than 14,000 years ago as it retreated slowly to the north. The sand and periodic fire have created a land of beauty and a home for a great variety of plants and animals.

Barrens country like this once made up a big part of Wisconsin but today only 1 or 2 percent of that remains. The Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area is one of the places where it is being preserved.

The NBWA is owned by the State of Wisconsin and managed for barrens habitat and species by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The wildlife area consists of two units located a few miles apart. 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 Trail and Springbrook Trail.

Friends of the Barrens

Our Friends group supports conservation of the NBWA’s pine/oak barrens habitat which is a remnant of those in the far larger Northwest Sands ecosystem. This habitat is globally rare and imperiled. Friends’ support includes influencing local and state government decisions, providing funds for DNR conservation plans, and supporting volunteer and educational activities related to NWBA conservation. We work to provide opportunities to view spring sharp-tailed grouse dancing from enclosed blinds, lead Natural Resource Foundation field trips for spring birding and for hiking the South Unit bog, raise funds for DNR land expansion initiatives, support the DNR management of regional timber harvests to benefit sharp-tailed grouse expansion, assist local public and private school field trips, enable fall bird dog field trials and lead summer nature walks.