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Wisconsin Islands Wilderness

General Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws


The United States Congress designated the Wisconsin Islands Wilderness (map) in 1970 and it now has a total of 29 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Wisconsin and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.


Three small limestone outcroppings in Lake Michigan--Gravel Island, Spider Island and Hog Island—make up Wisconsin Islands Wilderness. These islands provide important nesting grounds for colonial birds, especially herring gulls, ring- billed gulls, and double-crested cormorants. Because human contact could easily destroy these fragile and threatened communities, the public is not permitted to set foot on the islands. Boaters are asked to stay at least a quarter-mile offshore so as not to endanger the nesting areas. Bring your binoculars if you want to take a peek. Hazardous shoals surround the Wilderness trio, which further protects the safety of the birds and preserves the wildness of the islands.

Closed Wilderness Areas

Ten of the National Wilderness Preservation System's 803 wilderness areas are closed to access and use by the general public. Most of these closed areas are managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The core mission of the Service's National Wildlife Refuge System is conservation of native fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats. The Wisconsin Islands Wilderness, part of the Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge and Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Horicon Refuge Complex), is closed to visitation to protect wildlife and other natural, cultural, and/or other resources consistent with the conservation purpose(s) of the refuges. Wilderness designation provides an additional level of protection for the wilderness portions of these refuges, but does not open the area to public access or use.

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