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Kurtz Woods State Natural Area

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Posted January 2023

OWLT’s climate resiliency approach at Kurtz Woods, in the Village of Saukville/Town of Grafton, includes invasive plant control throughout and forest management in the eastern portion of the Preserve where the forest is younger. Kurtz Woods is among OWLT’s highest priorities for continued invasive plant species control. Potential forest management includes assisted oak regeneration and encouraging mixed-age classes at forest edges and in the eastern section. The old-growth woods in the western half should remain undisturbed except for invasive plant removal.

This portion of the nature preserve is being recognized by the Old Growth Forest Network (OGFN) at the SNOW MOON Twilight Hike.


Please join us on Sunday, February 5th at the Protect & Preserve - SNOW MOON Twilight Hike.

  • 4:30pm event start

  • 5:00pm Old Growth Forest Network Hike intro

  • 5:30pm Guided Interpretive Hike

  • 6:30pm Self-guided Casual Twilight Hikes


The 45-acre Kurtz Woods State Natural Area contains approximately 42 acres of mature southern mesic forest, a remnant of the pre-European settlement forest community that once covered much of southeastern Wisconsin. The Preserve hosts over eighty species of trees, shrubs and spring ephemerals and has remained intact for at least 100 years. The trees are predominantly sugar maple and American beech with smaller numbers of basswood and black cherry. Many large individual trees are present and create a mature, fairly closed canopy environment. Unique woodland wildflowers found at this property include hepatica, bloodroot, wild leek and spring beauty.

Photo courtesy of Eddee Daniel/awealthofnature.org

According to Josh Schlicht, Stewardship Manager at the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, “Kurtz Woods is a premier example of natural area protection in Ozaukee County. This preserve hosts an amazing ecological community which is what led the Kurtz family and The Nature Conservancy to protect the preserve back in 1980. Since 2005, OWLT has owned and managed Kurtz Woods for the benefit of the local community as well as for the species that call it home. OWLT is proud to have Kurtz Woods inducted into the Old Growth Forest Network. It feels great to recognize a place that has given so much community enjoyment and ecological benefits for so many years. Many thanks to the efforts of the families and partners who protected the land and to the members of Ozaukee Washington Land Trust whose volunteer hours and donations have stewarded the Preserve. We look forward to preserving and cherishing this old-growth forest forever.”


The mission of the Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN) is to connect people with nature by creating a national network of protected, publicly accessible forests. The organization’s goal is to ensure the preservation of at least one forest in every county in the United States that can sustain a forest, estimated to be 2,370 out of a total of 3,140 counties. OGFN’s program works to identify forests for the Network, ensure their protection from logging, and connect people to these forests to experience mature and old-growth forests. OGFN also educates about the extraordinary ecological and human wellness benefits of old-growth forests, and speaks out regarding immediate threats to specific ancient forests.


Founded in 2012 by Dr. Joan Maloof, OGFN has recognized over 180 forests in 32 states. Kurtz Woods State Natural Area will be the sixth Wisconsin forest to join the Old-Growth Forest Network. It will join Cathedral Pines in Oconto County, and Muskego County Park in Waukesha County, Plum Lake Hemlock Forest State Natural Area in Vilas County, Holmboe Conifer Forest State Natural Area in Oneida County, and Sanders Park Hardwoods State Natural Area in Racine County. The full list of forests in the Network may be viewed at www.oldgrowthforest.net.


Nick Sanchez, Network Manager for OGFN remarks, “We’re excited to welcome Kurtz Woods into the Old-Growth Forest Network as the first forest to be added in 2023! This mature maple-beech forest is a fantastic addition to the Network and we’re thankful to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and their community of supporters for the important work they do to protect and care for this forest. We invite others to explore public forests across Wisconsin and nominate the oldest, highest quality locations for potential inclusion and recognition in the national Network as we work to connect people to these special places.”


OGFN depends on volunteers in each U.S. county to help identify and induct forests into the Network. Interested volunteers are welcome to contact OGFN through www.oldgrowthforest.net.

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