Van Loon State Wildlife Area
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Van Loon State Wildlife Area

Armsterdam Prairie Road
WI, 54636
Van Loon Wildlife Area is a 3,918-acre property located in La Crosse County. It is located in the northwest corner of La Crosse County around 3 and 1/2 miles northwest of the Village of Holmen. The property extends 5 miles south of the Black River from Hwy 53/93 "Hunter's Bridge" to the community of New Amsterdam on County Trunk XX.
The wildlife area originated as a lease project in 1948 (known as McGilvary Bottoms). Fee acquisition began in 1957 with the purchase of 758 acres from the William Van Loon estate. The property contains six historic McGilvray arch truss bridges [exit DNR] over the Black River built circa 1892.

Habitat on the property consists primarily of flood plain forest, sand prairies and oak savanna. Situated on sand and gravel deposits of the Black River, it features groves of scattered oak forest with green ash. The sparse canopy of the savanna has permitted the development of prairie grasses and forbs and the exceptionally rich groundlayer has over 100 species documented. The mature floodplain forest situated between channels of the Black River contains canopy dominants of large silver maple, swamp white oak and green ash. Associated species include river birch, cottonwood, yellowbud hickory, American elm, basswood and black ash. Swamp white oak is reproducing well and there is good distribution of both size and age classes for most tree species, although very large individuals are relatively infrequent. The site is dissected by several flood channels and topography is nearly level. The shrub layer is moderately dense composed of prickly ash, elderberry, buttonbush, common winterberry and nannyberry.

Van Loon is a WBCI Important Bird Area [exit DNR] noted for Yellow-crowned night-herons, Acadian flycatchers, cerulean warblers and prothonotary warblers that breed there. The site also supports red-headed woodpeckers, blue-winged warblers and field sparrows. Waterbirds congregate in late summer and thousands of landbirds migrate through, particularly in the spring. Van Loon is also featured in the Mississippi - Chippewa River Region of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail [exit DNR].

One of the largest contiguous western Wisconsin bottomland hardwood sites, incorporating 3,800 acres of state-owned and leased public hunting land and 500 acres of private lands. Van Loon is used primarily for deer and waterfowl hunting. Other wildlife species include wild turkey, squirrel, ruffed grouse, heron, numerous songbirds and amphibians.
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