A project of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy.
Why You Should Visit
Wabikon Waters and Woodlands encompasses 15 lakes, including most of the shoreline of Wabikon and Riley lakes, the two highest-ranked lakes in Wisconsin for their natural values. More than 16 rivers flow through the property including parts of the Peshtigo, Oconto, and Wolf rivers. The forests contain many old-growth features and are home to northern goshawks, spruce grouse, black bears, bobcats and other wildlife.
Near Laona and Crandon in Forest County, northeast Wisconsin.
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest owns 656 acres at Wabikon Waters and Woodlands, which is managed for its natural and recreation values. The federal land contains most of the river frontage on the east shore of Wabikon and Riley lakes.
Another 18,438 acres is owned by Connor Timber Associates and is managed for timber production. A working forest conservation easement held by the State of Wisconsin keeps the land open to the public for recreation and ensures the forest continues to be managed sustainably.
The Nature Conservancy negotiated the transaction with Connor Timber Associates that resulted in protection of Wabikon Waters and Woodlands.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The land, which contains 15 lakes and segments of several rivers, helps link together thousands of acres in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, expanding wildlife corridors that will become increasingly important in allowing animals to adapt to habitat changes that are expected to occur as a result of climate change.
The property has been owned and managed by the Connor family for five generations since 1872. The Connors were early pioneers of selective harvesting and sustainable forest management, and the property continues to be an important part of the economy in northern Wisconsin. It provides lumber to three local companies who directly employ more than 200 people in Laona, Wabeno, Crandon and Goodman. It also sustains more than 200 independent loggers who provide the companies with raw materials.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
In 2010, The Nature Conservancy negotiated a transaction with Connor Timber Associates that helped protect working forests and keep some of the highest quality lakes in the state wild and undeveloped.
The Conservancy purchased 656 acres, encompassing more than half of the shoreline along the Wabikon and Riley lakes, from Connor Timber Associates, and transferred 442 acres in September 2010 and the remaining 214 acres in October 2013 to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to be managed for its natural values and recreation opportunities.
The State of Wisconsin purchased a working forest conservation easement on 18,438 acres of working forest from Connor Timber Associates. The easement ensures that the forests continue to be managed sustainably for timber products, maintaining much-needed jobs in Wisconsin’s forest industry.
All 19,094 acres of land is open to the public and offers exceptional recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, canoeing, cross-country skiing and wildlife watching.
Funding for the project was provided by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and Nature Conservancy supporters.
For more information about the Wabikon Waters and Woodlands project, please email Matt Dallman, Director of Conservation, at the Conservancy’s Northwoods Office or call 715-358-6305.
- Canoe/kayak/boat the waters of beautiful Wabikon and Riley lakes keeping a close eye out for bald eagles, osprey, black terns and otters.
- Walk through forests that contain many old-growth features and are home to northern goshawks, spruce grouse, black bears, bobcats and other wildlife.
- Take pictures, but leave only footprints.
Occupancy and use guidelines for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest apply to this property.
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Canoers/kayakers/boaters can access the 442 acres transferred to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest by The Nature Conservancy from the small boat landing east of Crandon just off U.S. Hwy 8 near Johnnie’s Resort. Hikers can access the property from Hwy 8 just east of the lake where the land comes up to the road. To see a map of the Wabikon Waters and Woodlands area, use this link. Yellow hashmarks on the map identify the 442 acres transferred to the national forest by the Conservancy.