By Dean S. Acheson
Just three miles northeast of Luck is one of Wisconsin’s newest state park and wildlife area, known as Straight Lake Wilderness State Park and Straight River Wildlife Area. The Straight River and the Ice Age Trail both run through the 12,778-acre tract. The park embraces the 107-acre Straight Lake, three other flowages of 120 acres of water, and 850 acres of mature hardwood forest surrounded by a diverse complex of wetlands and grasslands.
Visitors will be impressed by the nearly 100-year-old trees and rare bird species that can be found throughout the park. It’s located within an area known as Tension Zone, an area botanists describe as a place where plant species overlap between northern boreal forest and southern prairie woodlands. Wet a line in the spring-fed Straight Lake which contains excellent populations of bass, northern pike and panfish or Boy Scout Lake. Among the interesting glacial features in the “tunnel channel,” where the Straight River was funneled underground during the glacial melts. Though open now, the tunnel channel portion is quite evident. There are also two State Natural Areas in the park.
The land acquisition of this property filled the largest missing gap in the Ice Age Trail in western Wisconsin. State officials envision that much of the land will be used for silent sports including for fishing, hiking and non-motorized boating. Camping and campfires are not allowed. All species hunting (deer, small game, upland and waterfowl) is allowed in the wildlife area, located north and northeast of the property, while the State Park portion accommodates only the 9-day gun deer and muzzleloader seasons. A state park pass is required.