A project of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Conservation Forestry LLC, Forest Investment Associates and The Nature Conservancy
More than 14 miles of two Wild Rivers—the Pine and the Popple—flow through the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest. The property also contains one of the finest remaining wild lakes complexes in Wisconsin, composed of Savage, Dorothy, Mud and Robago lakes. Sugar maple, basswood, hemlock and yellow birch trees preside over a forest understory of maidenhair ferns, club mosses and great white trillium. Wildlife, including bears, flying squirrels and porcupines, is abundant.
The State of Wisconsin owns 5,629 acres at Wild Rivers Legacy Forest, which is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as part of its Pine-Popple Wild Rivers Area. The state land contains most of the river frontage on the Pine and Popple and the wild lakes complex.
The remainder of the land—58,988 acres—is owned by Conservation Forestry LLC and Forest Investment Associates, and is managed for timber production. A working forest conservation easement held by the state and The Nature Conservancy keeps the land open for recreation and ensures that the forest is managed sustainably.
The Nature Conservancy negotiated the transaction with International Paper that resulted in protection of the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest. The Conservancy does not own any land in the project area.
64,600 acres in northeastern Wisconsin: Florence, Forest and Marinette counties
At more than 64,600 acres, The Wild Rivers Legacy Forest is exceptionally rich in its diversity of life. It contains 48 lakes and ponds and more than 70 miles of rivers and streams—including portions of two wild rivers—that flow into and contribute to water quality in Green Bay and the larger Great Lakes system.
The forests and waters provide food and shelter for eagles, songbirds and wolves, as well as jobs, forest products and recreation opportunities.
This project, which is an unprecedented partnership among The Nature Conservancy, the State of Wisconsin, and two timber investment companies, began with a purchase from International Paper, which was negotiated by the Conservancy in 2006. The state now owns the heart of the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest—a core of wild and scenic rivers and lakes comprising 5,629 acres in Florence County. Together with the Conservancy, it also owns a working forest conservation easement on nearly 59,000 acres. The timber companies own that land and the right to manage it for timber production, but the people of Wisconsin own the public access and development rights as well as the right to ensure that forestry activities are conducted in ways that protect wildlife habitat, water quality and forest health and diversity while maintaining local forest industry jobs.
To complete the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest project, the State of Wisconsin invested more than $33 million through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund program. The Stewardship Fund is an innovative, public-private partnership program that preserves valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protects water quality and fisheries, and expands opportunities for outdoor recreation.
The Conservancy is currently pursuing additional public funding sources for this project and is committed to raising $3 million from private donors.
If you would like to help ensure the success of this groundbreaking effort, please call our office at (608) 251-8140 to make a contribution or send a check to:
The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin
633 West Main Street
Madison, WI 53703
Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines"
If you are interested in visiting the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest, please contact the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center for information and directions. The Center is located at the corner of Hwy 141 and Hwy 101/70 in the town of Florence.
Address: 4793 Forestry Drive, Florence, WI 54121
Phone: (888) 889-0049