Situated in the transition zone between tallgrass prairie and mixed hardwood forests, Hillsdale offers a great diversity of plant and animal species. For birdwatchers, various migrating shorebirds utilize Hillsdale as a rest stop. Today, as in centuries past, the plant communities are in constant competition for dominance.
Hillsdale Lake is visited by thousands of migrating birds each spring and fall. To provide the migrating shorebirds and waterfowl with nutritious food and peaceful places to rest, the Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife & Parks have developed three wetland areas at Hillsdale. The wetlands are well dispersed around the lake.
The Antioch Wetland is located on the north end of Big Bull Creek, this wetland was developed as a joint effort between the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks, Miami County Non-Point Source Pollution, and Ducks Unlimited. This wetland is approximately 60 acres in size and provides easy access to birdwatchers and hunters.
The Browns Wetland is located on the north end of Little Bull Creek. This wetland area contains two units, 25 acres and 30 acres.
The third wetland is located below the dam and is called Bull Creek Wetland. This wetland contains three small units totaling 25 acres.
Hunters and birdwatchers will have to walk 1/8th of a mile or more to reach these wetland units. All three of the wetland units at Hillsdale are open to hunting during waterfowl season. In 1998, a "Refuge" area was established on the Rock Creek arm of the lake. The refuge provides migrating birds with an area to feed and rest without being disturbed by human activities. This area is closed to all activities from October 1 through January 15.