Sunday, March 15, 2009

Purchase of Tomahawk River frontage concludes Forest Legacy project

TOMAHAWK – Through the purchase of 1,546 acres of land in Oneida County the state has protected over seven miles of river frontage on the Tomahawk River. The acquisition completes the third and final phase of the Tomahawk Northwoods Forest Legacy Project involving 70,000 acres of forest in six counties.

“We’re excited about this final purchase” said Paul DeLong, Chief Forester of the Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division, “the land along the river is scenic and undeveloped and will be available for sustainable timber productions and recreation for generations to come.” DeLong added that he was grateful for the role the federal Forest Legacy program and Wisconsin’s Stewardship program played in acquiring the land that includes 27 acres that also connects the purchase area to a segment of the Bearskin State Trail.

The $4 million dollar cost for the more that 1,500 acres was paid for through by a $1,972,000 US Department of Agriculture Forest Legacy grant and $2,028,000 from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship fund. The Forest Legacy Program is administered by the US Forest Service and designed to protect working forests, protect water quality, provide wildlife habitat, and allow for recreation. The state’s Stewardship program has a similar charge and has provided nearly $10 million dollars for the entire project, DeLong said.

The river is about half way between the cities of Tomahawk and Minocqua and flows from the Willow Flowage into Lake Nokomis. The 18-mile Bearskin State Trail passes through the communities of Minocqua, Hazelhurst, Goodnow and Harshaw.

The Northwoods Forest Legacy Project started in 2002 when the DNR acquired easements on 35,335 acres of land from Tomahawk Timberlands LLC. Through the years it has purchased other lands for the project in Vilas, Oneida, Marathon, Lincoln, Iron and Forest.

The federal Forest Legacy program has and continues to play an important role in conserving and protecting forested watersheds in Wisconsin. It is a partnership with the federal government that the state plans to carry on, DeLong said.

To date, the Chief Forester added, the state has acquired 56,517 acres through the program, totaling over $30.9 million in land value including $13.0 million in federal grants. For more information on Wisconsin’s Forest Legacy Program visit: Forest Legacy Overview.

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