Shoreline of Three N. Wisconsin Lakes Protected

March 14, 2006
Wisconsin

Bayfield County, WI-- March 14, 2006: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced today the protection of two forested properties totaling 702 acres as part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. The properties include more than 11,700 feet of undeveloped shoreline, fully protecting three intact glacial lakes from development.

The conservation of these properties has been a priority of the USFS and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). According to a Wisconsin DNR report, the average number of dwellings on privately owned lakes has more than doubled in the last 30 years. Estimates show that northern Wisconsin's lakes will be fully developed by 2015 if current trends continue.

TPL secured the properties using its Northwoods Land Protection Fund, a capital revolving fund established to support high-priority conservation projects. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest then purchased them from TPL through an appropriation from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), with the strong support of Wisconsin's congressional delegation including U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and U.S. Representative David R. Obey (WI-7).

"Wisconsin is losing lakefront properties like these at a considerable rate," notes Shaun Hamilton, TPL's Northwoods Initiative Director. "Thanks to the leadership of the Wisconsin congressional delegation, especially Congressman Obey and Senator Kohl, TPL was able to move quickly to protect this shoreline for the public."

Congressman Obey serves as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee and sits on the Interior Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the LWCF. He was instrumental in the success of this project and has been a strong supporter of the LWCF and funding for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. "Development pressure is a real and growing threat to the availability of public land like these," said Obey. "I am very pleased that we were able to secure funding for this high priority project to protect our lakes and forests for not only our enjoyment, but our children and grandchildren's as well."

Sen. Kohl is a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and has been a consistent supporter of LWCF funding for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. "Preserving Wisconsin's natural beauty is important," said Sen. Kohl "This project will help protect our forests and lakefronts from development and will help provide the public with greater access for enjoyment."

Sen. Feingold has also been a consistent supporter of LWCF funding for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

The Forest Service has recognized the unique attributes of the Wisconsin forests by undertaking a land protection program that is focused on undeveloped lakefront properties and consolidation of publicly owned land for the benefit of recreation, public access and natural resources. The Wisconsin Wild Waterways program has been supported through annual funding through the Land and Water Conservation fund that has completed the protection of 8000 acres and over 10 miles of undeveloped shoreline along critical lakes and streams.

"This is a rare opportunity to protect three intact and undeveloped wild glacial lakes," said Anne Archie Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Supervisor. "These two pieces of property are now available for public use by adding them to the National Forest system. Once again The Trust for Public Land has served as an excellent partner to insure the long term protection of these valuable lands."

The 609-acre wooded Canthook and Steelhead Lakes property, located 1.5 miles north of the Rainbow Lakes Wilderness Area, includes Canthook Lake, Steelhead Lake and three ponds. Canthook Lake, with 5,400 feet of undeveloped shoreline, is home to healthy populations of native pan fish, bass and walleye as well as musky and rainbow trout. Steelhead Lake, with 3,700 feet of frontage, also supports abundant populations of native pan fish, bass, walleye and trout. The North Country National Scenic Trail, a popular hiking trail that stretches across seven northern states for over 4,000 miles is adjacent to this property. Recreationists will now be able to enjoy the pristine character of these Northwood lakes just a short distance from the trail.

The second property conserved in this effort is the last remaining unprotected tract on Mirror Lake, located just 20 miles west of Chequamegon Bay in Lake Superior. The 93-acre property on the south shore of the lake has approximately 2,640 feet of frontage. Most of the land is upland, with majestic white pines in a mixed northern hardwood forest as well as 25 acres of lowland along the unspoiled lake. Through this transaction the entirety of Mirror Lake is now in National Forest ownership for public use and enjoyment.

"The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is excited to be a partner in the efforts to maintain the quality of our precious Northwoods," said John Gozdzialski, Northern Region Director of the Wisconsin DNR. "By working with citizens and partner organizations, we ensure that a few of these rare undeveloped gems are preserved for all citizens, present and future, to enjoy! This furthers our Northern Initiatives--Wild Lakes Program, which has been making great progress over the past 10 years. We look forward to working with the many partners to continue this exciting initiative by "Keeping the North the North."

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), established in 1972, is a national nonprofit land conservation organization specializing in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law, to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 2.1 million acres. Through its Northwoods Initiative, a regional conservation program focused on northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, TPL is assisting communities and public agencies in identifying and protecting sensitive and threatened lands. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information about TPL visit www.tpl.org.