Situated on the rolling glacial outwash sand plain that extends from Burnett to Bayfield counties, the Douglas County Wildlife Area features a large pine barrens with widely scattered clumps of jack pine, Hill's oaks, bur oak grubs, and occasional red pine. The vegetation is characteristic of the pre-settlement vegetation that once covered much of northwestern Wisconsin. Maintained by fire, the barrens are one of the best sharp-tailed grouse habitats in Wisconsin.

In 1947, the Wisconsin Conservation Commission established the "Douglas County Grouse Management Area." The purpose of the property was for research and experimental work on sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chickens and bobwhite quail. In 1948, the state entered into the first of several successive land leases with Douglas County.

A WSGS funded habitat improvement project on the Douglas County Wildlife Area was completed in January 2021. WDNR used a roller chopper on 50-acres of the DCWA. The job was completed in just two days for about $95 an acre, slightly under budget, and in a different area than the initial proposal. On the ground decision making from the WDNR determined an area of greater need. The area featured larger woody vegetation and recently cleared trees and stumps that don’t allow for mowing.

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