The Kickapoo Valley Reserve, is located in Vernon county in southwestern Wisconsin, which features an extensive landscape with a high diversity of plant communities, many rare plants, and animals, and offers more than 450 archeological sites. There is a high focus of restoration and environmental management that focuses on preservation and an encouraging ecosystem that allows the native plants and animals to thrive. Kickapoo Valley Reserve also offers a variety of recreational things such as trails, fishing, hunting, biking, hiking, various water activities and camping to the public.
The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is located in what is known as the "Driftless Area" and was once inhabited by The Ho-Chunk Nation for thousands of years. It is located between Wildcat Mountain State Park on the north and La Farge on the south, the Kickapoo Valley Reserve makes up over 8,000 acres in Vernon County, Wisconsin. The Kickapoo River begins in Monroe County and flows south and southwest through Vernon, Richland, and Crawford Counties. As it passes through the Reserve, the Kickapoo River is composed by scenic hills, bluffs, and rock outcroppings that can stand several hundred feet from the valley floor. It was named after the Kickapoo Indian Tribe, and the river empties into the Wisconsin River near Wauzeka, Wisconsin. [ citation needed ]
When settlers started to occupy the area, they changed the landscape dramatically by cutting down trees, plowing the lands for mills which was devastating to the river which caused flooding very often. In 1962, Congress passed the Flood Control Act and gave the U.S Army Corps of Engineers authority to build a dam in the Valley, which was known as the La Farge Lake Project. The Army Corps bought over 8,000 acres of the lands located in the Valley, and the construction of the dam began by removing homes and other buildings located on the premises. The dam was about thirty-nine percent complete when environmental concerns that were taking place in the U.S. pressured the Corps to shut the project down. [ citation needed ]
In 1996 after the Water Resources Development Act was passed, Congress demanded the Corps to return up to 1,200 acres to the The Ho-Chunk Nation and the rest to be controlled and managed by the State of Wisconsin. [ citation needed ]
The Kickapoo Valley Reserve also has many archaeological sites, like Rockshelters, Open Air sites, Burial mounds, and Petroglyphs. [ citation needed ]
This "Driftless" region, which is about 15,000 square miles, includes parts of Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa, and was formed because it was not affected by the last glacial advance during the Pleistocene Era, which lasted until about 12,000 years ago. The topography of the region is characterized by hills and valleys, and is a very important land are that can explain what pre-glacial Wisconsin would have looked like. [ citation needed ]
Bedrock in the area consists of shallow marine sedimentary rocks of Cambrian and Ordovician age. The rock at the valley bottom mostly consists of sandstone, along with beds of limestone and shale. [ citation needed ]
The Kickapoo Valley Reserve has a variety of different recreational activities for the public, such as an extensive system of trails for equestrians, bikers, and hikers. The Kickapoo Valley Reserve also offers camping locations, hunting, trapping and fishing with the appropriate permits and tags and also can be utilized by kayakers, canoeists, though the river is very sharp and is one of the most crooked in the State of Wisconsin. [ citation needed ]
A wide variety of plant species exists on the Reserve, there have been about 400 identified.
The Reserve contains 12 plant species identified as rare or endangered.
Many invasive plants are also found in the Reserve. Some have abundant populations such as honeysuckle, wild parsnip and reed canary grass, and some parts have low, but climbing numbers of plants such as garlic mustard, spotted knappweed and purple loosestrife. [ citation needed ]
There is a very diverse mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian population in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.
Birds: The variations in land cover and vegetation provide excellent habitat for a wide selection of birds. Over 100 species of nesting birds have been identified in the Reserve, including Bald Eagles, Green Herons, and Cerulean Warbler. Rare birds include Red-shouldered Hawk, Cerulean Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush and Acadian Flycatcher. [ citation needed ]
Reptiles: The Reserve is home to a wide variety of reptiles and amphibians. Turtle species include Snapping, Wood, Blanding's, the Painted, and Eastern Spiny soft shelled. There are many snake species found in the reserve also, like the Garter, the Brown, the western Fox, Northern Water, the Gray Rat, and the Smooth Green snakes. Other species with habitat ranges that include the Reserve are the Blue Racer, the Eastern Hognose, the Bull Snake, the Eastern Milksnake, the and the Northern Redbelly. Though most of the snakes found on the reserve are harmless, they're are two species located in the Reserve which are venomous, and they are both endangered and protected; the Eastern Massasauga and the Timber Rattlesnakes. [ citation needed ]
Amphibians: The Kickapoo River and the wetlands of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve provide excellent habitat for numerous species of amphibians. Frog species include Bull, Green, Leopard, and Wood. [ citation needed ]
The Reserve is also home to many salamander species. [ citation needed ]
Dark Sky Preserve
The Kickapoo Valley Reserve also offers a Dark Sky Preserve, one of only six recognized in North America because it is guaranteed to be free of light pollution. The Preserve allows people to view the sky and landscape through telescopes, which are known for outstanding views of the night sky and attracts people from all over to the site for events like meteor showers. [ citation needed ]
Kickapoo River Watershed
The Kickapoo River is a river flowing past diverse vegetation and alongside sandstone bluffs. The water quality of the Kickapoo has improved greatly over recent years and has replenished many of the Native species. There have been 21 known species in the Kickapoo River. The water depth usually ranges from one foot four feet, but there have been reported parts that can measure over six feet. During spring and after heavy rains, the Kickapoo River is known to overflow its banks. [ citation needed ]
Five main tributaries feed the Kickapoo within the Reserve. The Billings Creek, Weister Creek and Warner Creek have reputations as excellent streams for fishing Brown trout, Rainbow trout and Brook Trout. Organizations, such as the Coulee Region Chapter of Trout Unlimited, US Fish and Wildlife, Vernon County Land and Water Conservation, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Ho-Chunk Nation have made efforts in improving fish habitat and populations through stream restoration, surveys, and other related work. [ citation needed ]
There are also many small ponds exist in the Reserve. The ponds do not inhabit a large fish population, but they do provide habitats for various animals like amphibians, reptiles, birds, and aquatic invertebrates in the Valley. [ citation needed ]
- "Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail," Wisconsinbirds.org, 2017-05-01, http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/trail/sites/kickapoovalley.htm
- "Kickapoo River Valley," Driftlesswisconsin.com, 2017-05-01, http://driftlesswisconsin.com/explore/kickapoo-river-valley/
- "Kickapoo Valley Reserve," Driftlessdestinations.net, 2017-05-01, http://driftlessdestinations.net/hillsboro-attractions/kickapoo-valley-reserve.html
- "Kickapoo Valley Reserve," Facebook.com, 2017-05-01, https://www.facebook.com/Kickapoo-Valley-Reserve-254802577886808/
- "Kickapoo Valley Reserve,"Kvr.state.wi, 2017-05-01, ://kvr.state.wi.us/Natural-Features/Geology/
- "Kickapoo Valley Reserve(No.354)," Dnr.wi.gov, 2017-05-01, http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=354
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