Board approves Lower Chippewa River purchase

Discussion in 'Outdoor News' started by Wisconsin DNR News, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. By Central Office August 3, 2016

    Contact(s): Jim Dick, DNR spokesperson, 608-267-2773 or Doug Haag, 608-266-2136

    ASHLAND, Wis. - The Natural Resources Board approved the purchase of more than 990 acres including 18,000 feet of shoreline on the south bank of the Chippewa River at its meeting in Ashland. The land will be preserved for recreation and protection of habitat for a wide variety of species. The transaction is expected to close sometime in September pending review and approval by the Joint Finance Committee and the Governor

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources obtained an option to purchase 990.55 acres of land from the Northern States Power Company for $2,080,155. The land, located seven miles northeast of Durand in Dunn County, is completely within the project boundary for the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area and is across the river from the Dunnville Wildlife Area.

    The property consists of dry prairie, restored oak savanna, upland brush, floodplain forest, red pine plantations, agricultural land and a 10-acre oxbow lake. Roughly one-quarter of this property lies within the floodway of the Chippewa River. A diversity of notable bird species have been observed on this property, including grasshopper sparrow, field sparrow, lark sparrow, Bell's vireo, blue-winged warbler, veery and black-billed cuckoo.

    The property was acquired by Northern States Power-Wisconsin in 1973-74 with the intention of developing a power generation facility on the site but evolving energy needs led to the cancellation of those plans. In the last decade the company, now known as Xcel Energy, has taken an active approach to managing the timber resources on the property, conducting species inventories and restoring degraded prairies and savannas.

    The DNR currently holds a Voluntary Public Access lease on the property, which expires in 2017. Portions of the property are also enrolled in the open Managed Forest Law program. There is a picnic shelter and canoe landing providing access to the Lower Chippewa River and the Chippewa River State Trail bisects the property. There are also many existing parking lots along the town roads that the public can use to access the property.

    Since its inception in 2002, the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area has experienced an outpouring of local support due to the area's recreational assets and ecological significance. Numerous conservation groups, including the Lower Chippewa River Alliance, Dunn County Fish and Game Association, Durand Sportsman's Club, Rock Falls Sportsman's Club, Beaver Creek Reserve, Arkansaw Fur, Fish, and Game Club, Downsville Sportsman's Club and The Prairie Enthusiasts have all provided support through various donations of money, labor, bird surveys and supplies.

    The project contains the largest contiguous floodplain forest in the Upper Midwest. The LCRSNA is also an Important Bird Area, recognized by the National Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy.

    In addition to its natural resource values the property will continue to offer high-quality public recreation opportunities including hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking, birdwatching, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

    The acquisition will be financed with funds from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

    Last Revised: Wednesday, August 03, 2016