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Conservation group hopes to turn Wildcat Falls into community forestSubmitted: 05/21/2018
Story By Katie Thoresen

Conservation group hopes to turn Wildcat Falls into community forest
WATERSMEET - With every species of insect Rachel Hovel finds, she gets a better picture of the water quality at Wildcat Falls near Watersmeet. 

"We're actually finding really good representation of the mayflies, the stone flies, caddisfly which are the three most sensitive, which is a great indication of good water quality," said Hovel. 

Hovel was one of about a dozen people that spent their Saturday searching, identifying, and cataloging all the different species of plant and animal life on the property.


 "We really just want to document what's here," said Northwoods Alliance conservation coordinator Casey Clark. 

Between the variety of species, the waterfall, and unique geological features, there's a lot to record and a lot worth protecting. 

"It's not any one of those things. It's sort of the synergistic combination of those things," said Partners in Forestry Director Joe Hovel. 

Joe Hovel was a large part of an effort to make Wildcat Falls public land. 

For a long time, Wildcat Falls was part of the Ottawa National Forest. 

In 2016, the Forest Service traded 240 acres around the falls for 420 acres near the Porcupine Mountains, despite several efforts from local conservation groups to stop the land swap.

But a new owner could mean new opportunities and access to the site as it becomes a community forest. 

Northwoods Alliance, a conservation group, plans to turn the 160 acres into a community forest, ensuring it will stay open to the public forever. 

"We just really see it as a valuable piece of public property. A property that people should be able to access and enjoy," said Clark. 

Clark hopes more people will take part in this forest's future.

"The community is really going to say, 'we want a trail of this type in this area' or 'we want this kind of access to this property,'" said Clark. 

He hopes that future will belong to the community for generations to come.
 
"We want to protect the land and protect the resources that are here for perpetuity," said Clark. 

The Northwoods Alliance is in the process of making the area a community forest. 

It still needs donations to make that happen. 

To get involved in the community forest or to learn more about Wildcats visit the Northwoods Alliance's website.


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