The Old-Growth Forest Initiative of the Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) aims to conserve some of the last pockets of these forests by assisting private landowners and government agencies in protecting existing old-growth habitats, and by managing some of their forests to encourage development of old-growth over time.
In December of 2019, NWLT acquired the Sack Lake Hemlocks Old-Growth Forest in the Town of Knight in Iron County from the State of Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL).
The Sack Lake Hemlocks property includes 129 acres of land and 871 feet of natural shoreline on Sack Lake, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) identified “wild lake.” NWLT acquired the property after a year-long process of discussions with BCPL, working out the logistics of the transaction, and raising grant funding from various private foundations.
In an effort to consolidate land holdings, BCPL has been selling or trading some tracts of publicly owned forestland in recent years. Some of the tracts identified for sale or trade include vulnerable old-growth sites. By NWLT acquiring the Sack Lake property, it allowed BCPL to acquire a different tract of land that is both more suitable for timber management and is adjacent to other BCPL holdings.
Ecological, cultural and recreational values are retained in old-growth forests as they attract hikers, birders, hunters, and budding scientists. As the new owner of the Sack Lake Hemlocks property, NWLT will manage it for its old-growth forest habitat and for the wildlife that thrive there, as well as for public access for hiking, hunting, fishing and nature observation. The Sack Lake Hemlocks property has been identified as particularly important habitat for the American marten, a Wisconsin Endangered Species.
Grant support for the permanent conservation of the Sack Lake Hemlocks Old-Growth Forest was provided by the Caerus Foundation, Inc., John C. Bock Foundation, Modestus Bauer Foundation, American Natural Heritage Foundation, Arthur L. & Elaine V. Johnson Foundation, James D. & Jane P. Watermolen Foundation, and Cellcom Green Gifts Program.
Photo courtesy of Zach Wilson of the Iron Co. Conservation Dept.