Know Your Wisconsin: Horicon Marsh

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(WKOW) — Horicon Marsh had a rough beginning. Settled in 1846, a dam was built to power the town’s sawmill. The dam created a lake, which soon flooded neighboring lands, and in 1869; by order of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the dam was torn down and the marsh returned to its natural state! Originally seen as useless land, the marsh is now an internationally renowned wildlife refuge.

“So, Horicon Marsh is this amazing wetland. It’s 33,000 acres, it’s the largest freshwater marsh in the contiguous United States, so there is nothing like it anywhere else in the country,” said Liz Herzmann, Wildlife Educator for the Horicon Marsh Visitor and Education Center.

“It’s the largest freshwater cattail Marsh in the contiguous United States.”

This impressive amount of land also holds an abundance of wildlife for everyone to enjoy!

“We’ve had over 300 species of birds that have been documented here at Horicon Marsh,” Herzmann said.

“Some of them are migratory where they’re just stopping by for a couple weeks, they’re feeding, and then they’re continuing north for their breeding grounds, or vice versa in the fall, but many of them are nesting here as well.”

And there are many different ways to explore the marsh and enjoy its beauty.

“We offer, obviously, great bird-watching opportunities, wildlife watching in general, hiking trails, we have opportunities to bike around the marsh, and do canoeing and kayaking. Great for photography as well, so there really is something for everybody here,” Herzmann said.

In 2015, Horicon Marsh updated its facilities to make it more family friendly and interactive for visitors. The main level offers a viewing area, a children’s discovery center, and a gift shop. The lower level houses the Explorium, where visitors get a hands-on experience of marsh life, or visitors can take a guided tour.

“One of my biggest things here at the marsh is getting kids and families involved with nature many of these kids unfortunately, coming out to the marsh, this is the first time they’re in nature, which is really sad nowadays. And so, I love being able to get those kids outside,” Herzmann said.

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