October 27, 2016
Published by Central Office October 18, 2016

Contact(s): Carmen Hardin, DNR Division of Forestry, 608-267-3139 or Paul Holtan, DNR Office of Communications, 608-267-7517

MADISON – The public will have an opportunity at upcoming open house meetings and open office hours to review and comment on proposed changes to master plans for several northern forests and on a 15 year review of the Brule River State Forest master plan.

2015 Act 358, directed the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to propose a variance to the master plans of all northern state forests, except Governor Knowles State Forest, so that 75 percent of all the land is classified as a forest productions area. The DNR is conducting the planning for all the affected state forests simultaneously to gain efficiencies and consistency, and to make engagement and review from interested parties more streamlined, according to Carmen Hardin, DNR director of forest management

Northern state forests include: Northern Highland American Legion State Forest; Peshtigo River State Forest; Flambeau River State Forest; Coulee Experimental State Forest; Black River State Forest; and Brule River State Forest. Together these forests account for 451,000 acres of forest in northern Wisconsin. Currently 66 percent of the lands are designated for forest production.

DNR staff conducted an assessment of current conditions of the forest resource by property, including land and forest cover types, management history, and updated biotic inventories. They used this information to identify areas best suited for forest production on each property. Maps outlining current and proposed changes for all properties will be available at each open house and at each open office hours. The public will be able to review the maps and ask questions of department staff and submit comments on the proposed changes.

Using public input and additional analysis, DNR staff will refine and identify specific land management classification changes for each property, and develop a final draft proposal in the form of a master plan variance considering all state forests combined to meet the 75 percent forest production directive.

Brule River State Forest master plan update

Wisconsin administrative code requires the department to review each master plan every 15 years to determine if any changes should be made. The current Brule River State Forest master plan was approved in 2002.

In addition to the land classification review to meet the 75 percent forest production directive, a master plan review by DNR staff included a full assessment of land management, recreation, road infrastructure and administrative elements. The review includes a number of issues and opportunities for enhancing recreational opportunities in the forest, including:

  • constructing river canoes access at Highway FF;
  • creating a public walk-in access to Big Lake for recreational use;
  • improvements to the After Hours Ski Trail, that include additional loops and a camper cabin;
  • creating water trail campsites on Lake Superior; and
  • electrifying campsites at the Copper Range campground
Open houses, open office hours to be held Nov. 2 and 3

The review documents for both the northern forest land classification variance and for the Brule River State Forest master plan update can be found by searching the DNR website for keywords “master planning,” and then clicking on the links for “Northern State Forests,” or “Brule River State Forest.”

All of the documents as well as associated maps will also be available at the open houses that will be held:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 2, Woodruff – 4-6 p.m., Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest meeting: Woodruff Town Hall, 1418 First St.
  • Thursday, Nov. 3, Brule – 4-7 p.m. Brule River State Forest meeting: Brule Town Hall, 5814 S. Maple St.

The documents and maps will also be available for review and open office hours that will be held:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 2, Black River Falls – Noon-4:30 p.m., Black River State Forest office, W10325 Highway 12
  • Thursday, Nov. 3, Winter – 11-4:30 p.m., Flambeau River State Forest, W1613 County Road W

In addition to submitting comments at the open houses and open hours, people can fill out online surveys and submit comments by email through the master planning pages for the properties. The public comment period runs from Oct. 19 through Nov. 21, 2016.