Huge easement protects Iron County forestland; similar buys under threat from Walker's budgetSubmitted: 03/04/2015

Play Video
IRON COUNTY - A purchase of about $4.5 million helps protect almost 14,000 acres of forestland in Iron County.

But if Gov. Scott Walker has his way, the state won't be able to spend that kind of money on land purchases again until 2028.

The money to buy a conservation easement on the Twin Lakes Legacy Forest came from Wisconsin's Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

The easement will keep the forest mostly unchanged forever, preserving public access and healthy harvest levels.

"This property plays a particularly important piece in the local economy, regional economy, and the state economy in recreation and forest products," said Tom Duffus, the Midwest Region Vice President of The Conservation Fund.

That group buys private lands across the country on a temporary basis, allowing time for states to set up protections on properties like Twin Lakes.

The size of the land under the easement makes it one the five largest in the state.

"It's a very healthy forest," said Joe Mattke, a forester with Steigerwaldt Land Services. Mattke is in charge of overseeing the management of the Twin Lakes property, which produces various forest products.

"A lot of the hardwood pulp from here goes to different mills, like Sappi or Verso, those types of mills," Mattke said. "There's softwood pulpwood that can go to different mills, like Expera."

Wood of different grades goes to various sawmills, as well.

The agreement also protects recreational opportunities on the land.

But the money used to buy the easement could become off-limits soon.

In his budget plan, Walker wants to stop the stewardship fund from buying land and easements for the next 13 years.

That possible change concerns some who work closely with easements like the one at Twin Lakes.

"The only reason why this property was able to be conserved permanently with a working forest easement was because of the Knowles-Nelson state stewardship fund, a very important investment the state is making," Duffus said.

Many Democrats and some Republicans seem skeptical about ending stewardship spending.

In the next several weeks, legislators in Madison will debate whether to conserve state money or conserve forest lands like Twin Lakes.

To learn more about The Conservation Fund, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, or Gov. Walker's budget plan, see the links below.

Related Weblinks:
The Conservation Fund
Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program
Gov. Walker's Budget Proposal

Story By: Ben Meyer

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story


Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - The 25th and final Klondike Days will start in Eagle River this weekend.

The event is often called Wisconsin's #1 Winter Family Fun Festival.

+ Read More

Play Video

CRANDON - Prosecutors want a Wabeno man to go to prison for at least 30 years.

Justin Bey pleaded guilty on Wednesday to trying to kill a man in Forest County last March.

+ Read More

WAUSAU - Community health centers could soon face budget problems if funding levels drop. The possible shortfall stems from a dedicated five-year "Health Center Fund" through the Affordable Care Act that is set to expire soon.

+ Read More

Play Video

CRANDON - Hayes Metals in Crandon will see big changes over the coming weeks. Laona Machine Supply bought the repair shop on Monday.

+ Read More

Play Video

WHITE LAKE - You still have time to guess when "Iron Mike," White Lake's winter tradition, will fall through the ice.

Iron Mike is a friendly mannequin that sits on White Lake throughout the winter. He disappeared for a few decades, but he's back in 2015.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - Six groups in Merrill that offer services to the community got a new home in February.

They moved to the Ministry Good Samaritan Campus.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - Students in one Northwoods school turned their classrooms into a "portal to the past" this week. Students took what they've learned about ancient civilizations and brought them to life for their peers and the community.

+ Read More
+ More Local News

Click Here