Oak Ridge Waterfowl Production Area
Area: 422 Acres
Hiking Difficulty: B, C, D
A favorite hunting ground of local Native Americans, Oak Ridge was bisected in 1825 by an American Indian truce line which stretched roughly from Eau Claire, WI to St. Cloud, MN. The Chippewa had land rights to the north of the line and the Sioux to the south. With the truce line running directly through a prime hunting area like Oak Ridge, many skirmishes occurred. According to accounts of a battle in 1842, “Waters were red with blood.” In 1852, approximately 300 Sioux were camped on the north side of Oak Ridge Lake, resting in Chippewa territory. The Sioux made a hasty retreat but were chased by Chippewa Indians. Caught on the shores of the St. Croix River, the Sioux and Chippewa engaged in a quarrel. 1866 saw the first platted land and the first owner of Oak Ridge, Robert Bell. Mr. Bell changed the name from Oak Ridge Lake to Bell Lake but the name never caught on. Shortly thereafter, the name Oak Ridge was restored. Purchased in 1976, Oak Ridge was the first Waterfowl Production Area for the St. Croix Wetland Management District. Prior to federal ownership, it was jointly owned by Carl Bethke, Hank Krueger, and Don Dubois. Nineteen years prior, in 1957, concerned land owners and local sportsmen agreed to close the area to hunting. Doing so has improved hunting on other local lands and provided a magnificent location to view multiple birds, both summer residents and spring and fall migrants.
Birds of Interest: Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Golden Eye, Merganser, Canvasback, American Coot, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Wood Duck, Trumpeter Swan, Sandhill Crane, Great Egret, American Bittern, Black Tern, Sandpiper, Killdeer, Great Blue Heron, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Warblers, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, Flycatchers, Finches, Bobolink, Meadowlark, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Woodcock, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Baltimore Oriole, Common Yellowthroat and various Sparrows.
• Oak Ridge lies at the heart of a six mile long corridor of Waterfowl Production Areas and is named for the wooded ridge that looms above the percolating springs on this site
• Four different landscapes merge at Oak Ridge –wetland, grassland, savanna, and woodland – a characteristic that results in impressive diversity of wildlife and plants
• The Big Bluestem and Indian Grass that grow on there stored prairie within Oak Ridge can in some years be six feet tall!
• Black-eyed Susan, Grey-headed coneflower, Asters,and dozens more prairie wildflowers offer a parade of blooms throughout the summer season
Directions: From the city of New Richmond, go 3 miles north on Highway 65. Turn east onto 220th Ave. Go 1.75 miles east. The WPA is on the north side of the road.