Located in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, The Nature Conservancy’s Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area is a haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Today, the Conservancy announced that it has purchased an additional 322 acres from the heirs of Catherine Wolter, which will be conserved thanks to an innovative partnership with Jeff and Jody Johnson, of Winnetka, Illinois.
“Our family members have been visiting Wisconsin’s Northwoods since the 1920s,” said Jeff Johnson. “And Jody and I have been looking for a way to protect some part of this beautiful place not just for our family but for future generations.”
“We’ve been impressed with the creative and effective way that The Nature Conservancy can involve private individuals like us in conservation of the special places we care about,” added Jody Johnson.
The Nature Conservancy will place a conservation easement on the 322 acres and sell it to the Johnsons through its conservation buyer program.
“The Conservancy’s conservation buyer program allows us to permanently protect land in partnership with landowners who are committed to conservation,” said Matt Dallman, the Conservancy’s Director of Conservation in Northern Wisconsin. “Working with landowners like the Johnsons to conserve the land while keeping it in private ownership is a great way to stretch every conservation dollar.”
The land purchased from the Wolter and Kresser families is adjacent to 2,189 acres the Conservancy purchased from Catherine Wolter in 2000 and opened to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing and other types of recreation. Prior to her death in 2001, Mrs. Wolter and her late husband Fred had cared for the land for almost 60 years.
“Mrs. Wolter wanted to see the beauty and wild nature of the land protected,” said Mary Jean Huston, State Director of The Nature Conservancy. “She provided the Conservancy with an opportunity to purchase it through her estate plans. She has left a wonderful legacy of wild, undeveloped lakes and forests to her own grandchildren and to current and future Wisconsin residents and visitors.”
Situated along the east shore of Rudolph Lake southeast of Presque Isle in Vilas County, the 322 acres is forested with sugar maple, white pine, hemlock, white cedar and black spruce. Numerous songbirds, osprey and bald eagles, as well as timber wolves and black bears are present.
“I think my grandmother would be more than pleased to see this land on Rudolph Lake, which she called her little piece of heaven, protected,” said Derek Kresser, grandson of the late Catherine Wolter. “She loved the peace and quiet of the lake, but was also a real outdoorswoman and appreciated the great hunting and fishing opportunities on her land.”
Through the easement, the Johnsons have agreed to maintain the natural values of the land by limiting development to 15 contiguous acres and committing to forestry practices that will increase the ecological health of the forest. The easement is an important link in preserving an undeveloped wildlife corridor connecting public lands in Upper Michigan to state forest lands in northern Wisconsin. The easement will also help prevent the introduction of invasive species, which degrade forests and destroy wildlife habitat. The easement remains with the land and all future owners will be committed to these same provisions.
The beauty of the lake and surrounding forestland and its proximity to the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area make the land attractive to developers who could potentially have constructed as many as 40 home sites around the lake and in the surrounding woodlands.
The Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area and the recently acquired acres are nestled within the Border Lakes region — a 24,000-acre expanse of forests, wetlands, lakes, and streams along the northern edge of Wisconsin. The area contains the headwaters of the Presque Isle and Ontonagon rivers along with more than 100 lakes connected by high quality wetlands and streams rich in aquatic plant and animal life. The Conservancy has conserved almost 4,000 acres in the Border Lakes region.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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