Richard Bong State Recreation Area


Site Description

Once slated to be a jet fighter base, this property became Wisconsin’s first state recreation area in 1974. The topography is gently rolling and mostly open, containing large areas of grassland and shrubs, some restored prairie, and scattered savanna, wetlands, and woodland. At 4,515 acres in size, Bong is one of the largest open, undeveloped areas left in southeast Wisconsin.

Richard Bong State Recreation Area, photo by Beth Goeppinger

Richard Bong State Recreation Area, photo by Beth Goeppinger

Photo Credits: Beth Goeppinger

Ornithological Importance

Bong supports significant populations of grassland birds such as bobolink, eastern meadowlark, Henslow’s sparrow, field sparrow, and savanna sparrow. This area represents one of the best opportunities in this part of the state to restore additional habitat to benefit these species. Shrubby areas support willow flycatchers, Bell’s vireos, blue-winged warblers, and eastern towhees. Small numbers of bitterns and rails are found in the wetlands, along with great blue herons, green herons, great egrets, blue-winged teal, sedge wrens, marsh wrens, and swamp sparrows. Great egrets congregate in the fall, and small numbers of common and Forster’s terns are found in the spring. Northern harriers use the area in winter.