Nearly 4,000 Acres Protected Along Lake Superior Tributary

August 26, 2010

Nemadji River property

Conservation land along Nemadji River. Photo courtesy Wasau Paper.

Superior, WI — Douglas County and The Conservation Fund announced today the protection of 3,995 acres along the Nemadji River, safeguarding habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife, enhancing the quality of local water resources and providing recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

“These are incredible additions to public lands in Wisconsin that will now be preserved and enjoyed for generations to come,” said Governor Jim Doyle, who promoted the project today at the Superior stop of his Northwoods tour. “Our natural resources are one of the main reasons why people want to live, vacation, and move here. They are why businesses want to locate here. The future of our state is closely linked to our natural resources, and I’m pleased that, today, that future is looking even brighter with the protection of the Nemadji River.”

“At nearly 273,000 acres, the Douglas County Forest is the largest and one of the finest county forests in the state of Wisconsin,” said Jon Harris, director of forestry and natural resources for Douglas County. “This addition complements the goals of the Douglas County Forestry Department and will increase the benefits our forests provide to our environment, our economy and our Northwoods quality of life.”

The property consists of forestland, wetlands and streams that are home to a number of wildlife species including gray wolf, American marten, wood turtle, bald eagle and a variety of migratory birds. It also includes six miles of frontage on the Nemadji River, which contains a significant component of western Lake Superior’s fishery habitat. The tributaries entering the Nemadji River on the property feed the river’s warm water sport fishery where approximately 51 species of fish either live or traverse its waterways.

“The Nemadji River is a remarkable resource and we applaud Douglas County residents and the county supervisors for recognizing this as an opportunity to enhance the quality of life for all Wisconsinites,” said Tom Duffus, upper Midwest director of The Conservation Fund. “We couldn’t have done this without the state and federal support and the cooperation from Wausau Paper, who has been a great steward of the land for a century.”

The St. Louis River Estuary is identified as an area of biodiversity significance in the Binational Blueprint for the Great Lakes and greatly impacts the health of Lake Superior and the city of Superior’s drinking water supply. Protecting this property enhances the quality of the St. Louis River Estuary — one of the nation’s largest freshwater estuaries, which will be designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) in October 2010.

“The Lake Superior NERR will support integrated research and education programs that increase the understanding of freshwater estuaries and coastal wetlands. This research and education will help address coastal management issues important to our Great Lakes coastal communities, such as non-point source pollution, climate change and invasive species,” according to Becky Sapper, Lake Superior Freshwater Estuary Outreach Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “The protection of these lands along the Nemadji River will benefit the St. Louis River Freshwater Estuary and enhance the opportunities of the Lake Superior NERR to do research and education programming.”

A six-mile portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail Corridor traverses the property, linking Pattison State Park in Wisconsin with Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota. The property also provides the public with opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, cross-country skiing, paddling and other types of passive recreational experiences.

The Conservation Fund and Douglas County purchased the land from Wausau Paper, headquartered in Mosinee, Wisconsin. The Conservation Fund will assign its interest in the property to the county, which will be the long-term owner of the property. West Wisconsin Land Trust played a key role by initiating the project. Funding for the purchase came from a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, which was secured by The Conservation Fund, and a grant to Douglas County from Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.

About Douglas County

The mission of the Douglas County Forestry Department is to enhance the quality of life in the county by ensuring long-term health, viability and productivity of County Forest lands, and providing many diverse recreational opportunities to our residents and visitors that meet the needs of current and future generations.

Press Release Contacts

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |

Jon Harris, Douglas County Forestry Department, (715) 378-2219