Vilas County hemlock forest offers example of passive forest managementSubmitted: 06/16/2015
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Vilas County hemlock forest offers example of passive forest management
STAR LAKE - The Northern Highland American Legion State Forest covers more than 230,000 acres in northern Wisconsin. More than 70 percent of it is actively managed. That means it's eligible for some types of logging.

But about 10 percent of the forest has almost no management at all. Nature is allowed to run its course in those places. The Plum Lake Hemlock Forest in Vilas County is one of those places.

"This stand in particular originates from the early 1800s, probably from fire," said DNR Conservation Biologist Carly Lapin on a field trip last week. "It went through succession from aspen to pine and now to hemlock. We also see maple trees here, and yellow birch."

The field trip was organized by Science on Tap in Minocqua. Participants explored the hemlock forest, a designated State Natural Area. It was part of a larger tour of many forest management types in the Northwoods.

Passively managed forests like Plum Lake Hemlocks provide certain types of habitat for animals and plants.

"There's lots of coarse, woody debris, or trees that are down on the ground," Lapin said. "Those are important microhabitats for lots of species, especially salamanders and hemlock, for hemlock regeneration."

This story is part of a series of stories on the Science on Tap field trip. Each explores a different type of forest management in northern Wisconsin.

To learn more about Plum Lake Hemlock Forest State Natural Area, click the link below.

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Plum Lake Hemlock Forest State Natural Area

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