Landmark Conservancy Acquires Nearly 600 Acres Adjacent to Copper Falls State Park
Landmark Conservancy has purchased nearly 600 acres adjacent to Copper Falls State Park. This acquisition will conserve ecologically unique lands and provide protections to one of the top ten state parks and its 200,000 annual visitors.
We look forward to working with area partners to develop public access for non-motorized recreation on this newly acquired land, including hiking, hunting, fishing, trapping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and wildlife viewing. Last year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources released an extensive analysis on recreational needs in the state; over 80% of survey respondents indicated they felt more recreational opportunities were needed in the Great Northwest Region, with more trails and fishing opportunities ranking high among identified needs.
“Landmark was fortunate to have broad support from the community for protection of this property, including Ashland County, Town of Morse, Trout Unlimited’s state council and local Wild Rivers chapter, Northland College, trails and hunting clubs, and Cozy Valley residents,” said Erika Lang, Conservation Manager. The land trust secured state and federal funds to purchase the property, including grants from Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and the highly competitive U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest Program.
Conservation of the land provides important protection for wildlife as well as water quality, and further protects the natural resources of Copper Falls State Park. As Landmark develops new recreational experiences, they will work closely with the State Park to complement their visitor experiences and are eager to expand fishing opportunities. It is anticipated that these efforts may increase tourism and provide economic benefits for the region.
“Environmentally, this project will help protect water quality in the Bad River watershed and Lake Superior,” said Lindsey Ketchel, executive director. “By completing this land purchase, we are protecting a biologically rich forest and riverine environments that provide critical year-round habitat for various plants and animals, including neo-tropical migratory birds. Keeping the property is its forested condition and managing it sustainably will provide multiple benefits including flood mitigation and increased resiliency of the landscape to changes in climate.” Tom Fitz, Professor of Geology at Northland College and also a member of Landmark Conservancy’s Board of Directors, is excited about opportunities for both recreation and research within the Forest. “The interesting and varied landscape was created by the deposition of sand and gravel in among large blocks of ice as the last glacier melted about 13,000 years ago, followed by erosion by the Tyler Forks River and its tributaries,” said Dr. Fitz. “Hiking through the kettles, valleys and ridges in the landscape will make for some fun adventures. The landscape and forest will be excellent outdoor laboratories for geology, soils, and forest ecology research -- some of which is already underway.” Planning is underway for initial infrastructure including the construction of parking areas, trail work and signage. Landmark Conservancy welcomes participation and support from individuals, businesses and community groups -- Make a gift today!
Lake Superior set several monthly high water level records earlier this year.
Over the past year, Landmark Conservancy has explored how we can mitigate the effects of climate change in our region. In doing so, we have confirmed that our role in boosting resilience to change is through permanent land protection. But what does that mean?
For our purposes, we have considered resilience to appropriately mean “strengthening the ability of human and non-human systems to withstand and respond to changes in the Earth's climate”. Landmark will be working with targeted landowners to consider land protections like conservation easements to protect the non-human systems within their land. In addition, our work achieves greater when we work to connect the ecological flow from one resilient area to another. This will provide opportunities for species movement and migration as climate and habitat changes take place in western and northwest Wisconsin.
With this in mind, our conservation team has looked at our region through the lens of climate resiliency and flow models developed by The Nature Conservancy. What areas, because of their geological and physical characteristics will continue to support ecological diversity under a rapidly changing climate? Landmark will be focused on those places.
Where are these places? Diversity in temperature, aspect, soils and geology drive the biodiversity engine. Large and connected landscapes allow the movement and transition of species without needing intense management or restoration. Permanent land protection will aid the ability and flexibility of species to adapt to changing and evolving habitat. Resilience.
We are excited to complete the mapping of our focus areas later this fall. We are anxious to share our priorities with our supporters and partners, and to explore ways we can collaborate to most effectively boost our climate change resiliency as we move into the future. These maps will allow us to analyze each parcel in our focus area. We are excited to connect with these targeted landowners.
There are many positive ways to address climate change through conservation: restoration, adaptation, legislation, education. Landmark Conservancy protects land. In doing so, land protection with a focus on resilient and connected landscapes will help build a firm foundation for nature’s stage.
We are honored to share that Landmark Conservancy has been recognized as the 2019 Land Trust of the Year by Gathering Waters, Wisconsin's alliance for land trusts! The annual Land Conservation Leadership Awards recognize individuals and groups that "help protect the land, water, wildlife, and way of life that make Wisconsin special."
Landmark was selected in part due to the merger process that was undertaken by former Bayfield Regional Conservancy and West Wisconsin Land Trust.
“The successful merger of two strong land trusts is impressive when one thinks of all the dynamics involved in bringing together two distinct organizations,” said Mike Carlson, Executive Director of Gathering Waters. “With the combined knowledge and expertise of the staff, Landmark Conservancy will continue to protect and preserve land that provides clean water, healthy soils, habitat for wildlife, sustainable food sources, and spaces for public enjoyment. This is an incredible accomplishment worth honoring and celebrating.”
Landmark Conservancy has protected over 36,000 acres, including 207 conservation easements and 57 public recreation areas. Many of these areas provide opportunities for nature-based outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, hunting, birding, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Thank you to all of our supporters, partners, staff, board members and volunteers. Our work is only possible because of people like you.
The 2019 Land Trust of the Year award will be presented to Landmark Conservancy at the Gathering Waters' 17th Annual Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration in Madison, Wisconsin on September 26, 2019.