Parks & Open Spaces

 

Regional Natural Areas Plan

A regional natural areas and critical species habitat protection and management plan for Southeastern Wisconsin was adopted by SEWRPC as an amendment to the regional park and open space plan in September 1997. The regional natural areas and critical species habitat plan is documented in SEWRPC Planning Report No. 42, A Regional Natural Areas and Critical Species Habitat Protection and Management Plan for Southeastern Wisconsin, September 1997. The planning effort was undertaken to identify the most significant remaining natural areas—essentially, remnants of the pre-European-settlement landscape—as well as other areas vital to the maintenance of endangered, threatened, and rare plant and animal species in the Region. Promoting biodiversity, the plan represents an important additional element of the evolving comprehensive plan for Southeastern Wisconsin. It also provides an important supplement to the open space preservation recommendations of the regional land use, and park and open space plans. Under the plan, natural areas are defined as tracts of land or water so little modified by human activity, or which have sufficiently recovered from the effects of such activity, that they contain intact native plant and animal communities believed to be representative of the pre-European-settlement landscape. Critical species habitats are defined as additional tracts of land or water which support endangered, threatened, or rare plant or animal species. The study identified a total of 447 natural areas and 142 critical species habitat sites. The distribution of these sites within the Region is shown here.

The original plan recommended that each of the 589 natural areas and critical species habitat sites be protected and preserved to the maximum extent practicable as urban and rural development in the Region proceeds. The plan, as amended through the end of 2008, recommends that 539 sites, or 92 percent of the total, be placed in public or private protective conservation ownership and that the other 50 sites be protected, insofar as it is possible, through zoning and other regulatory means without protective ownership. Descriptive information for each natural area and critical species habitat site, along with the recommended means for preservation, is presented in SEWRPC Planning Report No. 42, as amended.

To remain vital, the natural areas plan must be periodically reviewed and revised to incorporate changes in the regional landscape. Preparation of the updated natural areas plan is intended to reflect physical changes in the Region, as well as new findings concerning natural areas and critical species habitat sites. The plan updating effort proceeded under the direction of the SEWRPC Technical Advisory Committee for the Protection and Management of Natural Areas.

The plan amendment identified a total of 494 natural areas and 271 critical species habitat sites through 2010. The amended plan recommends that each of the remaining 765 natural areas and critical species habitat sites be protected and preserved to the maximum extent practicable. The amended plan recommends that 686 sites, or 90 percent of the total, be placed in public or private protective conservation ownership and that the remaining 79 sites be protected, insofar as it is possible, through zoning and other regulatory means without protective ownership. Descriptive information for each natural area and critical species habitat site, along with the recommended means for preservation, is presented in the Amendment to the Natural Areas and Critical Species Habitat Protection and Management Plan for the Southeastern Wisconsin Region.
 

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Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

 

W239 N1812 Rockwood Drive
P.O. Box 1607
Waukesha, WI 53187-1607

 

Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

 

Phone: (262) 547-6721
Fax: (262) 547-1103
E-mail: sewrpc@sewrpc.org