Places We Protect

Wabikon Waters and Woodlands


, Wabikon Waters and Woodlands, Wisconsin
Little Riley Lake , Wabikon Waters and Woodlands, Wisconsin © Matt Dallman/TNC

A magnificent landscape of forests, rivers and wild lakes awaits you.



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.

Land Ownership

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 TNC 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 TNC 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.

The land 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 715-388-7171.




19,094 acres

Explore our work in this region

Occupancy and use guidelines for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest apply to this property.

  • 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.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest