THE E.M. GRIFFITH FOREST RESTORATION AND RECREATION AREA
A PROPOSAL BY THE
NORTHWOODS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION
ENVIRONMENTALLY CONCERNED CITIZENS OF THE LAKELAND AREA
November 14, 1996
This is a proposal by the Northwoods Conservation Association (NCA) and the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of the Lakeland Area (ECCOLA) for the establishment of a Northern Lake and Forest Ecosystem Management and Demonstration Area in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest in central Vilas County. The area, which we propose be called the E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area, would be managed by a multidisciplinary management team as a single landscape unit. Efforts will be made to:
E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area is envisioned as a place where we humans can provide for some of our resource and spiritual needs and still enjoy, protect and respect nature on it's terms, not ours.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Current Status and Specific Management Recommendations
Site Selection Criteria
Corridors and Linkages
Management Objectives and Specific Recommendations
Endangered, threatened and Extirpated Species
TOURISM AND RECREATION
Historical Perspective and Current
Site Selection Criteria
Management Objectives and Recommendations
BIOLOGICAL MONITORING AND INFORMATION TRANSFER
Fig.1. Location of proposed E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area in central Vilas County, Wisconsin
Fig.2. Location of proposed Star Lake Crescent of old growth and the Johnson Lake and Boulder Flats barrens
Fig.3. Location of proposed Old Growth Trail cross country ski/mountain bike trail and existing trails in the E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area
Fig.4. Location of proposed nature/hiking trails in E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area
Three quarters of a century has passed since the logging era left most of the northland essentially denuded, burned over and burned out. The forest landscape is finally beginning to recover. As it does, however, competing interests for pulpwood, lumber, tourism, hunting, motorized and nonmotorized recreation and residential land ownership all place a heavy demand on the forest resources. All are having a great impact on how this new forest landscape is developing and what its value will be in the future.
Unfortunately, attempting to satisfy all these demands equally throughout the forest under the aegis of the "multiple use" concept has resulted in a forest that is fragmented into small island-like parcels of mature forest separated from one another by a sea of recent cutover and pole sized stands of aspen, birch and jack pine, and disrupted by agricultural lands, urban areas and roadways.
This new forest provides pulp for the paper industry and habitat for grouse and deer, but it will not provide the construction lumber we will need in the twenty first century and beyond. It will not provide a quality recreation experience for ever-more-sophisticated residents and tourists. Most importantly, it jeopardizes our native plants and animals because it prevents the reintroduction of extirpated (locally extinct) mature forest species and isolates populations of those species remaining, causing them to decrease in numbers, decline in genetic diversity and possibly become extinct.
The most sensible and cost effective way to alleviate this problem is to apply the concept of "Dominant Use Zoning" to zone some portion or portions of the forest to optimize for those uses that are compatible with a more mature forest and which will enhance the forest value and preserve our precious natural biological heritage. This will require a long-term commitment. Long-term management projects can only be carried out on Public lands. Therefore, it is imperative to zone at least a portion of a Wisconsin state forest for special management to develop a far more valuable forest. The real value of today's forest is in the future.
It is herein proposed that the state of Wisconsin undertake a forest restoration and maturation project in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest (NHAL) with the overall goal of attempting to restore a little of the former "Great Northwoods" to some semblance of its former splendor. It is proposed that this experimental forest area be named the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area. It is further proposed that The E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area be identified as a Northern Lakes and Forest Ecosystem Management and Demonstration Area (see below and DNR, May, 1995).
The benefits of this project will be at least fourfold:
FORESTRY: It will provide high quality softwood and hardwood sawlogs for the "American Dream" of future generations.
BIODIVERSITY: Large blocks of mature forest will provide an intact northwoods ecosystem landscape for the restoration and preservation of the native interior forest flora and fauna of the region.
RECREATION: An integrated network of recreation trails will be developed through the awe inspiring big timber which will support and enhance the $200 million tourism industry of Oneida and Vilas counties.
BIOLOGICAL MONITORING AND INFORMATION TRANSFER: The lessons learned on the public lands would be made available to other public land managers and to private landowners (70% of Wisconsin's forests are privately owned while only 4% are state owned).
In 1878, the Wisconsin legislature designated a parcel of some 750,000 acres of beautiful lake and awe-inspiring white pine forest in Vilas, Iron and Oneida counties to become the "The State Park" for the enjoyment of future generations (Rogers, Dec. 1995). In the 1890s, under pressure from a handful of powerful timber barons, and against the protests of the press and the populace, they rescinded the decision and all the great pines were logged off. Between 1903 and 1914, Chief Forester Griffith set about to repurchase this cutover area as a forest reserve to restore the pineries. In 1915, private timber interests, afraid of public competition, found a "glitch" in the State Constitution and the forest reserve was declared unconstitutional. In 1925, 100,000 acres of this same land in central Vilas County was designated as a park for the second time -- "The Northern Forest State Park" (see map and promotional materials appended). In 1931, after enabling legislation, the area was again opened to logging by being incorporated into the newly established Northern Highland State Forest.
Although the area chosen for the E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area occupies almost exactly the same land as that of the turn-of-the-century "Northern Forest State Park," the location, size and boundaries of the area were determined solely by the ecological demands, goals and objectives of the proposed project. The area as seen in the map on page 4, occupies an area of about thirteen miles by sixteen miles. Private lands within will not be directly affected by this proposal, but all landowners will be encouraged to participate.
This area is, without question, the single best place to undertake this effort of any property owned by the people of Wisconsin. Located in central Vilas County and in the northeastern portion of the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, it is centered between the tourist-oriented communities of Eagle River, Boulder Junction and Minocqua/Woodruff. It is a primary tourist attraction on its own with a high concentration of scenic areas, rustic roads, family and wilderness campsites.
The area has beautiful and bountiful lakes, trout streams and nature trails. It is centered in the highest concentration of glacial kettle lakes in the world, which, in turn, support one of the largest concentrations of common loons and bald eagles in the "lower forty eight." Its lakes and streams have some of the highest water quality in the state. It contains some of the most popular snowrnobile and cross country ski/hiking trails in Wisconsin.
Thanks in part to "Big Tree Silviculture" (harvesting only trees at their biological climax), protection of "old growth" stands and restrictions on cutting of pine, this area has some of the finest timber and old growth in the state. Most importantly, this area contains the greatest concentration of scientific and natural, scenic, wilderness and wild reserves in the state.
The primary goal of the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area will be to establish a Northern Lake and Forest Ecosystem Management and Demonstration Area by managing the entire lake-water ecosystem as a single landscape. However, the thrust of this proposal will be directed toward the most disturbed component: the managed forest.
It is proposed that we use our top scientists from a variety of related fields to apply our best ecological skills in order to find ways in which to restore a more mature and intact northern forest ecosystem. To accomplish this, an experimental learn-as-you-go management approach called "adaptive management" will be applied primarily to the "Production" area (that area currently subject to logging) and shall be to use whatever ecologically sound management procedures are available (or become available) to control the amount of sunlight striking the forest floor so as to move the forest toward the more shade tolerant, intermediate and climax species of trees as rapidly as possible.
Then, the "Production" area will be managed and harvested via suggested modified uneven-age, shelterwood techniques (see Forestry and Definitions) , using sustained yield basis with Big Tree Silviculture so as to achieve "big timber" status with all of the niches and structural components of an old growth forest, including some coarse litter on the forest floor (see Biodiversity and Management Recommendations, below). All old growth, and areas classified as "Native Community," "Scenic" and "Wild Resources" will be protected and managed passively or for restoration of native communities (the classification terms are those used in the DNR Master Planning document, CH.44. Wisconsin. Adm. Code, 1 Sept. 1996).
A management team of selected scientists and professionals in the fields of forestry, ecology, endangered resources, conservation biology and recreation will make general procedural and site-specific management decisions using scientific experimental design and adaptive management procedures. As is currently the case, the Chief Forester of the NHAL will be responsible for executing timber management. Because this is an experimental project from which we hope to learn the maximum about managing forests for the future, control areas (no management) will be established within each management unit. Inasmuch as this is an ecosystem management project, management decisions for the individual sites (compartments?, stands?) will be undertaken only in the context of impact on the landscape as a whole (ie. Clearcutting will not take place adjacent to hemlock or cedar stands). Management decisions will be driven by the welfare of the total forest landscape and long-term goals of this project, and not by externally-derived production goals.
The post-logging homesteaders on the light sandy soils of northern Wisconsin quickly failed and the state and federal governments had the wisdom to secure these "wastelands" into our State, County and National Forests. The devastation from cut-and-run logging and the subsequent fires was so complete that only a few old growth stands of mixed hardwoods and/or hemlock remain in these public forests. Essentially all of the ecologically or economically meaningful old growth stands of pine were logged off.
Since the major logging era in the Midwest ended at about the time of the depression, the public lands in the Midwest have provided large quantities of pulpwood from the cutover for our thriving paper industry. Significant areas were also planted into Jack Pine, Red (Norway) Pine, and White Pine plantations. During this intervening period while our plantations have been growing, most of the sawlogs for construction of homes has come from the South and from the great forests of the Pacific Northwest. The old growth (virgin) western forests are rapidly running out, however, and the rate of logging is being curtailed. Much of what remains will be committed to preservation of endangered species and to much needed parks and tourist centers.
Pressures have now returned to the Midwest to provide softwood sawlogs for home construction, and hardwood sawlogs for cabinets, flooring and fine furniture. This will require large pines, spruce, fir and hardwoods. The growing of large quantities of conifers such as pine, spruce and fir is especially important because our greatest need is and will be for "softwood" lumber for home construction. Most of these conifers have been and will continue to be grown on the sandy, public soils.
Current Status and Specific Management Recommendations
Today, the proposed area is again comprised of some of the best hardwood/hemlock, red and white pine, red oak and other mature forest stands on state land -- thanks largely to restrictions on cutting of pine, selective logging and big tree silviculture by the DNR over the past several decades. However, due to individual stand management, there are still excessive areas of cutover with unacceptable edge and fragmentation. In 1982, 40% of the entire NHAL and 68% of the "production" area was in sapling and pole sized aspen, birch and jack pine (DNR, 1982).
The overriding timber and forestry management objective will be to severely reduce the percentage of forest in pioneer species such as aspen, white birch and jack pine.
The primary tool of management will be to limit the amount of sunlight reaching the forest floor. This will be accomplished by severely restricting clearcutting. Clearcutting would be allowed only to regenerate red pine (see below) and, in some instances, to salvage after natural disasters (disease, fire, wind). All other cutting would be by selection, thinning and herein suggested modified shelterwood processes ("succession" logging and "gap regeneration" logging, see below and the Definitions section). The management procedures will ultimately be determined by the selected team of foresters and ecologists.
JACK PINE. We have lots of jack pine. but jack pine is not preferred for construction lumber. It is a sun-loving "pioneer" species like aspen and birch and is primarily used for pulp. The percentage of jack pine should be reduced in the Forest Restoration experimental area. Jack pine could provide a valuable service as a nursery tree (shelterwood) for white pine by thinning the aging jack pine stands to about 50% canopy (herein referred to as "succession cutting," see also the Definitions section) and underplanting with white pine seedlings 20 to 30 years prior to final harvest of the jack pines. This would approximate what happens in natural forest succession (Curtis, 1959).
RED PINE. We have many red pine plantations, some of which are large enough for sawlogs and are being harvested. However, red pine seedlings are intolerant of significant shade and so red pine is best managed by clearcutting and replanting in the direct sunlight (even age management). Like jack pine, red pine in the presettlement forest was primarily found in areas that had recently been disturbed by fire or wind. Together, they made up less than 10% of the old forest (Curtis, 1959). The percentage of red pine should ultimately be reduced in the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area. Like jack pine, thinned out mature red pine plantations (succession cutting) could serve as very effective nurseries for white pine grown in the understory.
To regenerate red pine, seedlings from local stock would be planted in even age stands in selected clearcut areas. The management team will determine the time and location of clearcuts, but not more than 1-2% of the experimental Forest Restoration Area should be clearcut in any 15 year planning cycle. Slashings might be burned prior to replanting to release nutrients to the seedlings. This will approximate at least some of the natural disturbance processes of the presettlement forest.
WHITE PINE. Centuries old white pine dominated the presettlement forests -- often making up 90% of the stands. Today, white pine makes up less than 1% of the forest composition on its previous range. We have essentially no white pine in ecologically significant or economically harvestable stands left in Wisconsin. White pines belong to a group of tree species that ecologists call "intermediate." They do not compete well in open sunlight, and those planted in the early plantations did not fare well due to insects, disease and stress. White pines also do not invade the shaded forest; they do best in small openings and along the forest edge. Therefore, most of the present large whites are individuals growing along the roadsides and streamsides or lakesides and on people's lawns where removal will have a major visual and emotional impact.
A top priority will be to dramatically increase the percentage of white pine in the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area.
All large white pine currently present will be left uncut as long as possible to provide a seed source for future generations of trees. Our best ecological talents and skills will used be to recreate significant new stands of white pine via natural regeneration and by underplanting in thinned stands (succession cuttings) of mature pioneer species such as red pine and jack pine, or aspen and birch or red oak, where appropriate. Such use of overstory shelterwood will protect the seedlings from white pine blister rust and tip weevil (Patterson and Aizen, 1989, French and Baughman, 1992, Katovoch, 1992) which are major problems in open plantations. Natural regeneration of the white pine would be preferred, but removal of competition such as hazel brush and planting white pine seedlings from local stock will be necessary in some areas where natural seed supplies are limited.
In much of our forest, the soil has been modified by several generations of aspen which has caused the pH and humus to increase so that pines can no longer effectively compete. Therefore, it might be necessary to at least "kick start" some areas using creative management techniques such controlled burning and scarification to prepare a seedbed for the pines (Heckman, 1992). Once established, it is expected that the most passive possible management will be applied. Once they reach maturity, white pine stands can be sustained by continued "succession" logging.
We are very fortunate that white pine is currently showing a major burst of natural regeneration in the proposed area and the woods are full of seedlings. It is absolutely essential to prepare the woods for the white pine resurgence by initiating this project as soon as possible.
SPRUCE, FIR, RED MAPLE and RED OAK. Of these intermediate species, white spruce, balsam fir and red maple develop naturally in the understory of aging aspen and birch stands on the more mesic (more fertile and moist) sites, while red oak prefers the drier sites. They are all underrepresented in the area and the percentage should be increased. Careful harvesting of the old pioneer hardwoods such as birch and aspen by "succession" cutting would help increase the percentage of these species in the forest. Underplanting might be necessary on some sites and care must be taken to not allow full sunlight on the forest floor. Red oak is especially disturbance dependent and additional management may be necessary to reduce competition.
OLD GROWTH and MATURE STANDS of HEMLOCK and SUGAR MAPLE. Several magnificent stands of old growth sugar maple, hemlock and mixes of these (with yellow birch and basswood) are present in the Forest Restoration Area. There is one large crescent of old growth and mature forest extending from the Star Lake-Plum Lake Hemlocks east across Hwy N, then north around Salsich and Laura Lakes, up to the east and north of Irving Lake and ending along the north and south shores of Partridge Lake (see map on page 11). This crescent totals about 3500 acres and may well be the largest such stand on public land in Wisconsin. It should be carefully protected as a single unit (part of it is currently protected in the Plum Lake Hemlock Forest State Natural Area, the Star Lake-Plum Lake Public Use Natural Area and the Salsich Lake wilderness surround even though two short stretches have been recently selectively logged). There are several other areas of recently matured stands. All should also be reserved from cutting for the time being as important biodiversity reserves (see below). As our knowledge of the requirements for biodiversity restoration improves, some of these stands might be opened to selective logging in the future. These shade tolerant "climax" species would then be managed via uneven-age species or group selection to 75-90% crown cover as recommended by Erdman (1986)(herein referred to as "gap regeneration" logging, see also the Definitions section).
YELLOW BIRCH. Yellow birch is a somewhat special case in that prime seedling sites are course litter such as stumps and decaying logs. It is believed that one of the reasons that yellow birch have decreased so dramatically is that the forest is currently lacking in these nurseries and the moist microclimate of the shaded forest floor. Special efforts will be directed to regeneration of yellow birch. Coarse litter is also very important to the survival of snakes, salamanders, Indian pipe, decomposers and a large variety of mature-forest biota.
WHITE CEDAR and HEMLOCK. White cedar and hemlock are preferred deer winter browse, and because of high deer densities, are experiencing very low regeneration. The key to recovery of both white cedar and hemlock may well lie with reduced deer densities. Above all, clearcutting should not take place adjacent to reproducing cedar or hemlock, lest increased deer populations overbrowse the seedlings and saplings.
PINE BARRENS - A SPECIAL CASE
Pine barrens are open grasslands dominated by sweet fern and blueberries with scattered, scrubby jack pine and a few red pine, red oak and pin oak growing on dry, nutrient-poor sands. They have, or had, very distinctive flora and fauna (DNR, May, 1995), including elk, sharp-tailed grouse, upland sandpiper, bluebirds, rare grasses, ferns, moths and butterflies. One of the rarest (state endangered) butterflies is the Northern Blue whose larvae feed exclusively on dwarf bilberry (also endangered) which, in turn, are found almost exclusively in the barrens. The barrens were maintained naturally by frost and frequent, low intensity fires. Fire prevention and planting of jack pine plantations have all but written the death knell for the barrens. At the time of settlement, there were more than 2.2 million acres of barrens in Wisconsin. Today, there are only 20,000 acres. They are listed as rare both globally (Global3) and in Wisconsin (State2).
There are remnants of two naturally occurring barrens in the proposed Griffith Forest Restoration Area: the Johnson Lake Barrens and the "Boulder Flats" just south of Boulder Junction. In 1995, much of the Boulder Flats was salvage cut due to insects infecting the heat- and drought-stressed trees.The Boulder Flats is difficult to manage by fire because of its proximity to urban development, but efforts for restoration should be made.
Inasmuch as the E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area is designed as an Ecosystem Management and Demonstration Area, every effort will be made to emulate natural processes and to allow natural disturbance forces to function. Therefore, salvage of timber after natural disturbances such as disease, insect infestations, fire or blowdowns will be undertaken only very reluctantly. Salvage sales of 40 acres or less may be approved only by unanimous consent of the management team, and only after it has been shown that the area presents a hazard to surrounding lands.. Salvage sales of more than 40 acres may only be approved by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board via amendment of the Master Plan (see NR44.04 (10)b of the Master Planning Rule). In either case, such an intent to open a salvage sale shall be announced via statewide and regional media, regional stakeholders on the Department of Natural Resources mailing list shall be notified, and an opportunity for public input will be provided at least thirty days before the sale is released for bid.
Once developed, the mature conifer and oak forest and perhaps some of the old growth stands of sugar maple, hemlock and yellow birch will provide high quality (and high value) lumber for generations to come.
In the short run (50 years or so), there will continue to be a relatively high amount of pulpwood removed as the recent clearcuts again mature. Thereafter, the amount of pulpwood will decrease but never cease, because thinning, salvage and occasional clearcut operations will continue, as will the availability of tops from sawlogs. The pulpwood industry will not be unduly impacted as the proposed area produces only about two tenths of one percent of the pulpwood generated in the state each year (estimated from DNR, 1982).
The amount of saw timber removed will remain fairly stable for the first fifty years, then increase substantially and remain high. The increase in saw timber will have a positive effect on the local and regional economy. Unlike pulp and paper facilities, sawmills generally site in rural areas, close to the supply of timber (Northwest Regional Planning Commission, 1995). Primary industries such as sawmills, in turn, spawn service and secondary industries which further provide high paying local jobs. A good example of this process already at work is the expansion of the Pukall Lumber facility in Woodruff. Increasing saw timber is a long term investment in the economic future of the region.
Contrary to popular belief, the "Great Northwoods" of the Midwest was not a vast and unbroken cover of pinery awaiting Paul Bunyan's ax (Curtis, 1959; Alverson, Kuhlmann and Wallar, 1994; DNR, May, 1995). Rather, it consisted mostly of a variety of island-like natural (edaphic) communities such as bogs, conifer swamps, shrublands, marshes, lakes and streams, etc., imbedded in a complex matrix of sugar maple/hemlock/yellow birch/basswood on the mesic soils.
The fabled white pine and the related red and jack pine forests were limited primarily to other island-like clusters of a few thousand acres or less on the drier, sandy soils. In fact, the central portion of Vilas and Oneida Counties, which encompasses the proposed area, contained the largest pinery in Wisconsin. On the very dry soils were found the bracken grasslands and pine barrens. For a more complete discussion of the plant and aquatic community types present in the Northern Lake and Forest Ecoregion prior to settlement, the reader is referred to "Wisconsin's Biodiversity as a Management Issue: A Report to the Department of Natural Resources Managers" (DNR, May, 1995).
In short, the "northwoods" was really a complex of natural communities of plants and animals adapted to living on a variety of large and small ecosystems and to traversing between them through a sea of old growth forest with interspersed successional stages from past disturbances.
The logging era removed more than just trees. Dozens of species of plants and animals were eliminated (extirpated) from Wisconsin by the extensive devastation caused by the logging and subsequent fires, uncontrolled hunting and farming. Fortunately, we have been able to successfully reintroduce a number of the larger animals such as fisher and pine marten to at least part of their former range. Others are in the process of being reintroduced or are attempting to return on their own from Minnesota and the U.P. of Michigan (timber wolf, moose, trumpeter swan, elk and eastern cougar). Not as obvious is the fact that there are still many species of less conspicuous plants, animals and microorganisms that have yet to become reestablished.
More important, the continuous fragmentation via clearcutting, agriculture, development and other disturbances have allowed the invasion of the northland landscape by exotic species such as purple loosestrife, Eurasian milfoil, house sparrows, European starlings and others. Additionally, there are excessive populations of disturbance-tolerant species such as brown-headed cowbird, raccoon, skunk, beaver and white tailed deer (high deer populations inhibit reproduction of hemlock, white cedar and other browse sensitive species) have practically extirpated Canada yew and may prevent moose and elk from reestablishing. This is all placing excessive stress on native, mature forest species.
Wisconsin, like the rest of the nation and some of the world, is in the process of trying to restore and preserve its native plants and animals. The Endangered Species Act has played a major role in this process. One very important lesson that we have learned from implementing the Endangered Species Act, however, is that it is not cost-effective to attempt to protect one individual species at a time. While single-species preservation must not be abandoned, it is much more effective, both biologically and economically, to restore and preserve unfragmented ecosystems. To do so is a major component of this proposal for the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area. This proposal is entirely consistent with the recommendations of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' biodiversity report (DNR, May, 1995) in which it is proposed that a Northern Lakes and Forest Ecosystem Management and Demonstration Area be established.
BIODIVERSITY and CONSERVATION BIOLOGY
Biodiversity is the variability of life forms and functions at four levels; genetic, species, community and ecosystem.
In the rapidly maturing science of Conservation Biology, many projects have been undertaken and several models for biodiversity preservation are available (Ness and Cooperider, 1994). Generally, this entails a large central protected core of virgin or mature ecosystem surrounded by a buffer area of more disturbed transition area. The cores are linked together by travel corridors. The model often cited as exemplary is the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Unfortunately, we in Wisconsin do not have a 2.2 million acre national park of old growth (before the fires) and wildlife preserve to serve as a central core. We have only edaphic areas of little economic value (e.g. bogs, marshes. barrens, etc.), a few old growth climax stands and some natural/scientific areas to start from. The primary need in Wisconsin is to restore major areas of the matrix (production forest) to functional natural communities representing all forest successional stages in a mosaic appropriate to the Highlands landscape. The restored matrix will then bind the edaphic, scientific and old growth communities into an intact, functional ecosystem.
Site Selection Criteria
It is sensible to concentrate biodiversity preservation efforts and to create ecosystem management demonstration areas where there are concentrations of old growth stands, a minimum of fragmentation, a diversity of ecological types, a low permanent human population, a low degree of riparian (shoreline) development, and a minimum number of major roads. The single qualified place in the NHAL is the area identified for the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area.
The proposed area contains the highest concentration of scientific, natural, scenic and wild reserves in Wisconsin. It:
Corridors and Linkages
In order to allow for migration of species, it is important to provide corridors and linkages between similar habitats. Extending to the northern edge of the forest provides linkage of the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area to other mature forest areas on private land and in the Ottawa National Forest (including the Sylvania Wildemess Area) in Michigan. Due to the general lack of knowledge concerning the necessary width of corridors and due to the diversity of forest types along the north boundary, the broadest possible northern border should be maintained.
To the west, the Manitowish River is not likely to function as an effective corridor because of excessive development. The most usable western corridor to the Flambeau State and Chequamegan National Forests is likely to be via Powel Marsh and the Manitowish Wilderness areas and across the big swamplands of the Lac du Flambeau Reservation. Lack of upland forest types, however, may be a problem for some species. Direct linkage to the Nicolet National Forest is all but impossible at this time due to the excessive private development and large areas of clearcuts in the county forests to the East of NHAL. To the south is the highly developed and ecologically disturbed urban/suburban area around Minocqua/Woodruff.
Management Objectives and Specific Recommendations
The primary biodiversity management objective will be to restore and manage an intact Northern Lakes and Forest Ecosystem Landscape as a single unit wherein each management decision will be made in the context of the system as a whole and where natural processes will be allowed to function and dominate the landscape to the greatest extent possible. No such area currently exists.
The natural/scientific areas and old growth areas as well as the protected zones listed above (all areas classified as "Native Community", "Scenic", and "Wild Resources") would all serve as protected biodiversity cores. Many of the protected zones are a long way from old growth, but they will become so with time. It is recommended that the publicly owned portion of all other lake and stream riparian zones be considered "wild" and consist of a 400' protected zone. This would further enhance water quality, offer a somewhat remote experience to lakeshore users, and would provide a undisturbed, narrow riparian ecotone (zone of transition) which is very important for most of the biota of the landscape.. This is also the zone that is most impacted throughout the northland.
The matrix ("production" zones) would serve as buffer, corridor and possible source of future cores. It will be managed primarily via modified selective harvest as a closed canopy, mature forest (disturbed areas would still exist, see Logging and Timber Management, above).
All logging would be conducted so as to minimize impact on seedlings, ground vegetation and nesting birds. All logging roads would be bermed or gated immediately after a logging operation, and the compacted soil should be loosened to enhance regrowth of vegetation. No motorized vehicles should be allowed except on approved trails. Salvage of firewood immediately after a logging operation should be allowed to continue, as should gathering of balsam boughs. However, collecting of "ground pines" (the clubmoss Lycopodium) for Christmas wreaths should be curtailed until it can be determined if they can withstand such harvest. Recent studies have shown ground pine to be very slow growing and decreasing because of excessive harvest. Exotics will be removed wherever possible.
Serious consideration should be given to discontinuing all active wildlife habitat management such as creating wildlife openings and planting clover on logging roads in the Forest Restoration area because it creates excessive edge effect and increases disturbed area. All legal hunting and fishing would still be allowed.
The management team would also attempt to apply as many of the management recommendations presented in the "Report of the Scientific Roundtable on Biological Diversity Convened by the Chequamegon and Nicolet National Forests" (USDA, 1994) as reasonably possible and to adopt other biodiversity management techniques as needed.
As the restored stands of pine and other currently underrepresented communities mature, some might be selected as reserves in the future if needed. The lakes, wetlands, barrens, sedge meadows, streams, springs and other small and economically unimportant, but ecologically critical communities will be managed as Native Community reserves by the management team according to the recommendations of "Wisconsin's Biodiversity as a Management Issue" (DNR, May, 1995).
Endangered, threatened and Extirpated Species
EAGLES and LOONS. Bald eagles (National Threatened) and common loons are well established in the proposed E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration Area. In fact, this may well be the greatest concentration of both in the U.S. outside Alaska. Eagles may be interfering with osprey, and the osprey may need some special attention.
FISHER and PINE MARTEN. Both fisher and pine marten (both extirpated and reintroduced) have returned to the forest in force. Fishers may, in fact, be having a negative impact on populations of snowshoe hares, possibly grouse and some birds of prey. However, relaxed trapping regulations and natural population dynamics should resolve this in a few years.
TRUMPETER SWAN. At least one pair of trumpeter swan (National Endangered) has been reintroduced to the proposed area, and every effort must be taken to prevent accidental shooting by waterfowl hunters. These magnificent birds are very shy and harassment by boats, especially high speed boats, could easily cause them to move elsewhere. It is herein recommended that the horsepower of outboard motors on Partridge Lake be restricted to not more than 20 hp (in the past two summers, boats with motors in excess of 100hp have been seen on this remote Wild lake. Damage to the primitive boat access while launching these big craft has also been unacceptably great).
EASTERN COUGAR (rare). At least one and possibly two of these great cats have repeatedly been seen in and around the proposed area for the past several years. Little is known about the origin of these animals, but there is some evidence of a breeding population in the U.P. of Michigan and northern Wisconsin. All precautions should be taken to protect them from hunters and harassment. One step that might be considered is to restrict the use of dogs for the pursuit of bear in the proposed area. General health and genetic studies should be undertaken in cooperation with the state of Michigan to determine if this apparently small and residual population is losing reproductive capacity and genetic diversity (as is the case for the closely related Florida panther, which has lost 90% of its genetic diversity).
TIMBER WOLF. Timber wolves (Federal Endangered) are being reestablished throughout some of the more remote areas of northern Wisconsin. They have not yet become established in the proposed area, probably because of major highways such as 45, 51 and 2. They should colonize here in the near future, but a mature forest will not attract any large population.
CANADA LYNX. Though Wisconsin is at the margin of the lynx's natural range, lynx (extirpated-rare?) should be considered for reintroduction after the snowshoe hare population recovers, and when the habitat is appropriate.
MOOSE and ELK. Moose (extirpated) from the U.P. of Michigan frequently pass through the proposed area, but they quickly disappear. The proposed area may be large enough and there may be enough habitat to support a small moose population, but unless the deer herd is reduced, there is little chance of successful occupation. There may be too little elk habitat in the proposed area alone to support a breeding population of elk (see: The Barrens - A Special Case, above).
SHARP-TAILED GROUSE. Sharp-tailed grouse (approaching "Threatened" status) once occupied the barrens areas in the proposed area. These barrens should be restored by prescribed burning and the sharp-tail reintroduced. Only by restoring most or all of the old barrens in the region, however, might there be a expectations for achieving a huntable sharp-tail population (see: The Barrens - A Special Case).
SPRUCE GROUSE. A small population of spruce grouse (very uncommon) is known to exist in the mature spruce stands along the springs in the Highland Springs area and at the Johnson Lake Barrens. These birds should be closely monitored, the spruce habitat protected and clearcutting immediately adjacent to the spruce discontinued.
NORTHERN BLUE BUTTERFLY. The northern blue butterfly (Wisconsin Endangered) larvae feed exclusively on dwarf bilberry which are found only in some old barrens. Restoration of the barrens is essential for their recovery (see: The Barrens - A Special Case).
CANADA YEW. Canada yew appears to have been extirpated from this area, probably by deer browsing (there are a few plants on an island in Escanaba Lake). It should be considered for reintroduction to the Star Lake Crescent Old Growth, even if only in deer exclosures.
Other extirpated species should be considered for reintroduction when the habitat conditions are appropriate and as funds, time and opportunities present themselves.
When maturity is achieved, in about fifty years, the Griffith Forest will consist of a variety of scales of landscape-appropriate biodiversity cores embedded in a broad buffer/corridor of managed, mature forest. This is quite different from the western Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem model, but one which is achievable given the current state of Wisconsin's forests. As the forest matures, there will be a decrease in the number of exotics and disturbance-tolerant species and an increase in shade-tolerant, interior species.
In particular, there should be an increase in many forest interior and neotropical bird species, especially those breeding in conifer forests, such as red crossbill, Blackburnian warbler, pine warbler, red breasted nuthatch, brown creeper,
hermit thrush, black-throated green warbler, scarlet tanager, Swainson's thrush, solitary vireo, northern parula, golden crowned kinglet, yellow rumped warbler, black backed woodpecker, and Connecticut warbler (Dr. Robert Howe, UW-GB, pers. comm.).
Northern forest and bog butterflies such as pepper and salt skipper, West Virginia white, Henry's elfin, Atlantis fritillary, satyr angelwing, green comma, canadian tiger swallowtail, bog copper, Dorcas copper, brown elfin, bog fritillary, Frigga fritillary, Freija fritillary, red-diskel alpine and Jutta arctic will all benefit where present. If the barrens are properly restored, and if proper larval host plants are present, chryxus arctic, hoary elfin, brown elfin, pink-edged sulpher, indian skipper, cobweb skipper, Leonard's skipper, and Laurentian skipper will also benefit (Anita Carpenter, pers. comm.).
Hopefully, trumpeter swan, wolves and cougar will establish breeding populations and additional large mammals such as moose, wolverine and lynx can return. Many plants and smaller animals should be reintroduced.
As the forest matures, the distribution and diversity of niches will approach that of the presettlement forest. This will not necessarily mean an increase in niches or in the number of species (richness), or even in the amount of wildlife to be seen, only that the system will develop attributes characteristic of a more mature forest landscape with all its ecotones, successional stages and edaphic communities intact and interacting in a sustainable fashion for the foreseeable future.
TOURISM AND RECREATION
Historical Perspective and Current Status
Early in the forest recovery period during the first half of this century, the recreation demands in the northland were for hunting, fishing and "Ma and Pa"-run lakeside resorts for those who were "better off." To the unsophisticated visitor of the day, the miles of cutover and pole sized timber was a relief from the stifling urban factories and barren, eroding farmlands of the day. The cutover provided amazing deer herds for those who ventured north (especially when one considers that there were almost no deer in the southern half of the state then).
After World War II, the demand for recreational opportunities and facilities in our state's forests and lakes increased dramatically. Camping became more popular; so did the demand for lakeshore property and summer cottages. Gradually, small tourist-centered communities grew into major tourist attractions and summer home communities.
Today, northern Wisconsin is a world-class tourist attraction with dozens of rapidly growing tourism-oriented communities and advertising budgets to match. More than 1.5 million visitor days are enjoyed in the NHAL alone each year (DNR, 1982). The northland is also rapidly increasing in permanent population as people move in to serve the tourists and as summer home owners settle as retirees. Retirees add stability and year-round jobs to the economy as locals provide goods and services (Northwest Regional Planning Commission, 1995). Vilas County is the most rapidly growing county in the state, and land values are skyrocketing.
Today, tourism is a 200 million dollar per year industry in Vilas and Oneida counties alone. Nearly one-half of the people in Vilas County are directly employed in the tourism industry (DNR, 1982). To the local communities, these are precious dollars because tourism and recreation dollars remain in the local community to be recycled time and again. Conversely, the revenue generated from timber sales pay for the timber management program, but only about 100 local people are actually employed in the private sector to cut and haul timber (Department of Natural Resources, 1982). Almost all of the value-added benefits, especially from pulpwood, accrue to the down-state cities like those in the Fox River Valley and the Wausau area where the papermills and large millwork shops are.
Today's tourists are much more sophisticated in their expectations. Twenty five years of exposure to myriad nature and environmental programs have increased awareness and expectations. Many have traveled to pristine environments like our national parks and tropical rainforests. An increasing number are foreign citizens who are spending large sums of money to experience nature's finest. An increasing number are experienced "watchers" of nature who are looking for the rare and unusual.
Today's visitors are better educated, and physically more active than ever before. They want to get out on the water and into the woods and "just do it." They want to know more about the trees and flowers and wildlife. They want to walk and jog and hike and ski and bike and ride on the land. They want to "experience" the land. They also want well maintained and clearly marked trails, so they feel secure and don't have to worry about getting lost.
The problem is, that while these much more sophisticated tourists come to the northland to experience the "Great Northwoods" of advertising brochures, little is being done to assure that the experience is anything like what was expected. Seeing miles of cutover forests with "doghair" aspen and pole sized woods is not what was imagined.
On private and county lands, clearcutting right up to major roadways is common and accepted procedure. Even though recreation was considered an important aspect of our state forest system from the very beginning in 1915 (DNR, 1955), the primacy of fire protection and timber production has almost completely dominated legal status, management efforts and funding; while recreation, scenic values, hunting, and stabilization of stream flow have been considered "other benefits" until now (Section 28.04, Wis. Stats.). This statute has recently undergone revision via 1995 Wisconsin Act 257, effective 7 May, 1996, and the above uses as well as "the long-term maintenance of sustainable forest communities" are all considered equal.
The DNR is making an effort to mask the visual impact of logging operations along roadsides in the state forests via Best Management Practices and Silviculture and Forestry Aesthetics Handbook procedures, but the impact is still very stark and sometimes shocking to anyone who actually enters the woods. Since 1974, the DNR has also instituted the "Big Tree Silviculture" practice of growing trees past their economic age in order to improve the aesthetics of large diameter trees. The visual benefits of this practice are beginning to become obvious. Nevertheless, the stands are managed as individual units so that one encounters the stark litter and exposure of cutover right next to a fine stand of trees.
It is time to select a demonstration area to explore ways in which to better address the needs of the tourists and recreationists. It is time to provide our Wisconsin citizens and tourist friends alike with a more authentic "northwoods" experience. It is time to create a more "park-like" area of the forest; a shadow of the first state park envisioned in 1878 perhaps, but something better than we have now.
Site Selection Criteria
In order to enhance tourism and recreation, it is imperative to select an area from public land that not only has a well established tourism industry with facilities and accommodations, but also one that has natural features and an "in-forest" support system of trails and campsites. While it is recognized that there are many areas of northern Wisconsin that are fine tourist attractions, few can compare with the area chosen for the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation project.
The communities of Boulder Junction, Minocqua/Woodruff, Eagle River, St. Germain, Sayner, Star Lake and Arbor Vitae all provide local hospitality and accommodations. Many other communities are nearby and offer accommodations.
Within the forest of the proposed E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area are, arguably, the highest concentration of recreation facilities and trails in the state. Even within the NHAL, the proposed area is outstanding. The proposed area has:
Management Objectives and Recommendations
The overriding tourism and recreation management objective will be to develop an integrated complex of recreation trails through the inspiring beauty of a mature and intact Northern Lake and Forest Ecosystem.
It is recommended that any and all avenues be investigated to shift the balance of, or increase the funding for, management of the forest so as to better reflect the importance of tourism and recreation to the economic welfare of the northwoods area and of Wisconsin as a whole.
BICYCLING (touring and cruising cycles). Offroad cycle touring has become a major attraction in Wisconsin, which has more than 1000 miles of hard surfaced, abandoned railroad grades ("Rails to Trails") such as the Elroy-Sparta Trail (Wisconsin Biking Guide, Wisconsin Dept. Tourism, 1996; Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 19 May,1996). Efforts should be made to connect the "Bearskin" trail in Minocqua to suitable trails (moderately developed and fully developed trails, see Master Planning Rule Document, Sept. 1996) in the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area, and to enhance the surfaces to accommodate touring type bicycles. A three-mile-long asphalt-surfaced path parallel to Hwy M north of Trout Lake and funded by the Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun this process (see map on p30). As hard surfaces roads are resurfaced, consideration should be given to adding a bike path on one side. Cycling on narrow forest roads having high crowns and no shoulders is hazardous.
CROSS COUNTRY SKI/HIKING TRAILS. Cross country ski/hiking trails were developed to function as year around attractions. These trails are more primitive and rugged than the "Rails to Trails" touring cycle trails. They are defined as "lightly developed trails" (see Master Planning Rule Document, Sept. 1996) and consist of roughly graded surfaces over variable terrain. With the advent of mountain bikes in the 1980s, such trails were considered suitable for hiking and mountain cycles in summer and were groomed or ungroomed for cross country skiing during winter. Unfortunately, the recent increase in popularity of mountain bikes has caused major user conflicts between the hikers and the bikers in the Kettle Morraine State Forest (Bjorkman, May, 1996). Bjorkman's study reports -- "Hiking users have primarily a nature protection/preservation motivation for trail use in contrast to a more utilitarian, nature-as-a-backdrop-for-recreation motivation for mountain bike users. These motivational contrasts create great contrasts between users sharing the same trail. Anger and sadness are common emotions that result for both user groups sharing the same trail." The report recommends that hiking trails be separated from biking trails.
While, hopefully, it will be some time before the trails in the northland receive the type of intensive pressure that those in the Kettle Morraine get, demands will continue to increase. Therefore, it is imperative to structure or restructure all trails in the proposed E.M.Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area in the 1997 planning cycle so as to avoid user conflicts, wherever possible.
Mountain Biking/Cross Country Skiing (groomed trails). Mountain biking is a suitable activity on the wide, primitive corridors of groomed cross country ski loop trails. The terrain selected is usually rolling with short, moderately steep hills. Within the E.M. Griffith Forest area, there are four sets of loop trails -- Razorback Ridges, Escanaba, Lumberjack and the Boulder Area Trail System (BATS)(see fig.3, p. 30).
Linkage is an important problem. The loop trails tend to be isolated from one another. The Escanaba and Lumberjack/BATS trails are linked into a very nice complex, but these should be linked to the Razorback Ridges trails and to the communities of Star Lake, Boulder Junction and Sayner so that skiers and cyclists could trek from one sleeping accommodation to another. This type of cross-country travel is becoming very popular worldwide.
One herein proposed trail (Old Growth Trail, see map on page 30) would traverse from Hwy N north of Sayner, where it would become a one-way, single path as it traverses up the old railroad grade along Star Creek to East Star Lake campground, then east of County Highway N along logging trails to the rerouted Snowmobile Trail #7 and follow the snowmobile trail north between Laura and Irving lakes, thence around Irving Lake on an old logging road to Camp Two Road. From there, the trail would follow the narrow old logging railroad grade (it later became an unimproved local road, see map of Northern Forest State Park, appended) between Ballard and Partridge lakes to Nixon Lake Road where it would join the Lumberjack /BATS/ Escanaba Trails. If Razorback Ridges were linked into the system, cyclists could connect to the Old Growth Trail via Star Lake on Razorback Road (dotted line), or via Sayner on Co. Hwy N. This trail is designed for cross-country, off-road "touring" with low vertical relief and would require minimal athletic/technical skills.
A second trail, west of Highway 51, should be developed to link from Boulder Junction to Woodruff via a route close to the Manitowish River.
Summer bicycling could become just as important as snowmobiling as a tourist attraction, especially if the shady, cool northwoods is part of the package.
Foot Travel-only Trails. Historically active trails such as the "Trampers Trails" in the Star Lake area and numerous other foot trails should be upgraded, cleared and advertised, but maintained as foot trails only. These trails could also be used for snowshoeing and "bushwhacking" type (no groomed trail) cross country skiing.
There are interpretive nature trails at Fallison Lake, North Trout Lake and at the Star Lake Plantation. Additional foot trails should be established to compensate the hikers and nature watchers for displacement from ski/bike trails. In keeping with the goals of this proposal, minimally developed foot trails should be established in the park-like setting of old growth forest. In order to reduce impact, it is herein recommended that three single-loop trails be established in the Star Lake Crescent Old Growth (see map on p11).
The first (which we propose be called the Steams Trail in honor of Dr. Forest Steams, who has played such a major role in understanding the ecology of forests and forest fragmentation throughout Wisconsin for the past 40 years, and who has served for many years on the state's Natural Areas Preservation Council), would start with a trailhead near the rearing pond on Rearing Pond Road (see fig. 4 on p33). The trail would be unidirectional to enhance the sense of solitude and spiritual oneness with the forest. It would follow the current Trampers Trail along the south shore of Star Lake eastward to the canoe portage trail. Thence up the portage trail to the crest of the ridge and follow the ridge back to the trailhead . The trail would be about one mile long. Inasmuch as this trail is in the Plum Lake Hemlock Forest State Natural Area with its mission for teaching and research, this trail should have interpretive trail stations which tell of lichens, mosses, Indian pipe, microclimates and forest litter and the history of this near-virgin 200 year old stand.
The second (which we propose be called the Ellerman Trail in honor of Lawrence Ellerman, son of Star Lake pioneers, a local fishing guide, a naturalist and the originator of the "Trampers Trails"), would also be unidirectional and would start at the parking area near the outlet creek on the south shore of Star Lake and proceed westward along the Trampers Trail to a second canoe site. Thence it would follow an old service road up through the hemlocks and maples to Hook Road -- an old driveway in to where the Hook cabin once stood on the north shore of Plum Lake. One could then hike out to the cabin site, or return directly to the trailhead via Hook Road.
The third trail (which we propose be called the Nelson Trail in honor of Gaylord Nelson who was our Governor and U.S. Senator and has been a conservation leader for more than forty years) would start on County Hwy K about one-half mile west of the eastern boundary of the forest and follow what has until recently been snowmobile trail #7 north between Salsich and Laura lakes to Laura Lake Road. The hikers and nature lovers could then return on the trail, or they could walk southwest on Laura Lake Road to Trampers Trail, then turn south past Salsich Lake to Hwy K and back to their vehicles. The trail passes through some of the most magnificent old growth mesic forest in Wisconsin, but it also shows an area where the forest is recovering from a tornado in 1983. The entire trail would be about 2 ½ miles long and should be considered for interpretive stations about the many species of ferns, mosses and clubmosses, the role of forest litter in old growth ecology, and the role of forest disturbances.
We also suggest that the interpretive trail in the Star Lake Experimental Plantation be named the Wilson Trail in honor of Fred Wilson, the forester who planned the one hundred year experiment in 1911, planted the original seedlings, established formulae for optimizing harvest volumes and oversaw management cuts until his recent death at the age of 101.
Canoe Portage Trails. There are many canoe portage trails in the proposed area, most of which have become lost in a jungle of undergrowth due to lack of maintenance. The problem is lack of funding; Unless the trails are maintained, they discourage use. Creative funding such as user fees, donation buckets, funds from local room taxes, volunteers from local service clubs, should all be considered.
ALL TERRAIN AND HIGHWAY/OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLES. All terrain vehicles (ATVs) and highway/off highway vehicles (H/OHVs - four wheel drive trucks and Jeeps) are increasing in popularity and the owners and the industry manufacturers are demanding access to remote trails in the forest. Inasmuch as the ATV owners are required to purchase a license and are not permitted on roads, there is some legitimacy to their demand for a place to operate. Others argue that they disturb other forest users with their noise and cause excessive damage to trails and forest vegetation. They have, thus far, been granted access to most of the trails in the Chequamegon National Forest in northwestern Wisconsin as well as to many of the various County Forest trails. They also, of course, have access to private lands.
In keeping with the concept of Dominant Use Zoning and with the Biodiversity goals of this proposal, however, use of ATVs and H/OHVs on forest trails in the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area is incompatible and unacceptable. While disturbance-tolerant species such as deer, raccoon, house sparrow and brownheaded cowbird can tolerate high speed and noisy disturbances during the summer reproduction season, disturbance-intolerant, interior forest species such as wolves, cougar and ground-nesting neotropical birds cannot. Use of these vehicles must be limited to short rotation forests of pioneer species such as aspen and jack pine where logging trails are frequently reopened and where disturbance-tolerant species predominate.
TRAIL AND ROADSIDE MAINTENANCE. To insure visual sanctity, it is recommended that a three hundred foot "protect" zone be established along all roads, trails and access areas (e.g. trailheads). Roadside maintenance (mowing and "brushwhacking") will be used only to meet the minimum standards of state law. Type two and type three "Recreation Use Settings" or their equivalent (see DNR, April, 1996) will prevail wherever possible, and, except for access to existing boat launches and access to trailheads, all primitive (logging) roads will be closed. Intensive-use-designated corridors (Use Setting 4) will be kept as narrow as possible. Intensively used, developed trails will parallel roads wherever possible to minimize the area of disturbance (Knight and Gutzwiller, 1995). Trails within the current Partridge and Frank Lake Wild Areas and in the "Highland Springs" area above Camp Two Road should be restricted to protect sensitive and endangered species.
FISHING. Fish management will not be influenced directly by this proposal, except within the context of the Ecosystems Management and Demonstration guidelines (i.e. preservation of local genetic diversity). Maintaining a protect zone along all shorelines (see Biodiversity, above) will provide a wilderness experience to all lake and stream users. The protected mature forest along trout streams will dramatically reduce beaver flooding and bank damage because beaver depend heavily on aspen and birch. Also, shaded stream waters will remain cooler and large windfall trees will provide washouts and hiding places for the trout. The lack of silt and nutrient flushes that accompany clearcuts will also improve water quality and benefit fishing in general.
HUNTING. Every experienced hunter knows that the highest densities of deer and grouse are in ten- to thirty-year-old cutover. The implication of the proposed reduction in aspen and cutover is obvious. The populations of deer and grouse in the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area will eventually decrease. It is important to remember, however, that much of the "production" area has been logged in the past few years, including several thousand acres of clearcut in the "Wild Areas" (numerous news releases in the summer of 1994). Therefore, aspen will soon regenerate and the deer and grouse populations will experience an increase in summer food supply. Only after thirty or more years, when the cutover matures, will summer range become limiting. Winter range, however, is what limits deer herds in the northland. Occasional harsh winters can have a devastating effect on a herd out of balance with its winter range.
The winter of 1995-96 is a good example of what can happen. It was the first winter with above average snowfall in several years, and it was the harshest winter since 1960. The Department of Natural Resources uses a composite index of temperature and snowfall called the Winter Severity Index (WSI) to assess winter stress on deer. A WSI of 80 represents the threshold for severe conditions. The average WSI over the past thirty years was 60-70, and in 1994-95, it was only 32 (Lakeland Times, 2 August, 1996). The WSI for the area in winter 1995-6 was 150-180, the highest recorded. The result was a major deer starvation. While intensive feeding efforts saved thousands of animals near urban areas, remote populations experienced 30% or more direct mortality. The winter range had already been so depleted that cedar reproduction was almost nonexistent. Hemlock saplings provided some nourishment, but the extremely deep snow coupled with an ice layer in the center prevented the deer from browsing near the ground. While many of the deer starved, the bottom branches of some of the hemlocks survived (Ron Eckstein, pers. comm.). Nevertheless. it will take decades for the hemlock to recover and the carrying capacity of the winter range has been greatly decreased. In spite of ample summer aspen, the deer will experience repeated winter dieoffs, unless they are carefully managed.
So, it will be very important for the deer managers to keep the herd stable, or even decrease it slightly to allow the currently overgrazed cedar and hemlock to recover. As the aspen mature, the deer herd should then stabilize at around ten to fifteen per square mile. That level of population, coupled with a healthy winter range, is the type of habitat that produces the big "wall hanger" trophy bucks that the more experienced hunter dreams about. While lower populations will translate into fewer opportunities for some who will hunt the area in the future, the Forest Restoration Area makes up just about one third of one percent of the deer range in Wisconsin. With more than 1.5 million deer in the state, there will still be plenty to go around.
WILDLIFE VIEWING and NATURE WALKS. Birding, wildflower walks, wildlife viewing/photography and general nature walks are the fastest growing segment of the out-of-door clan. Interest in spring wildflower walks has induced the U.S. Forest Service to recently initiate a "Wildflower Hotline" to keep visitors informed on what is flowering when. Three quarters of a million visitor days each year are specifically spent on berry picking and wild flower "watching" in the NHAL (DNR, 1982). Other than a modest effort by the DNR to provide self-interpretive trails and to provide a few naturalists at summer campgrounds, little is being done to accommodate or to cater to this growing, nonextractive clientele. In the Forest Restoration Area, there will be increasing opportunities to provide guided tour and woodland "safari" services, outfitting, "Wildflower Weekend," etc., by the private sector. Any in-forest activities must, of course, be monitored by the management team to protect the biota.
Once the forest recovery is significantly underway, and the trail system is in place, the visitors to the northland will be able to experience the "Great Northwoods" of our current travel brochures. The E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area is envisioned as a place where we humans can provide for some of our resource and spiritual needs and still enjoy, protect and respect nature on its terms, not ours.
BIOLOGICAL MONITORING AND INFORMATION TRANSFER
This project is designed as an experimental effort in which accepted scientific rigor, record keeping and analyses will be applied to all monitoring of forestry, ecological and recreational management activities. It is also imperative that every source of funding available be sought in order to encourage both in-house and external research on processes and progress. All the scientific community, public and private, will be encouraged to participate.
Inasmuch as the concepts of conservation biology and ecosystern management are still being defined and expanded, it is very important that lessons learned in managing the E.M. Griffith Forest Restoration and Recreation Area be transferred to other public property managers and to private landowners. Workshops, training sessions, seminars, technical papers and internships should all be employed to transfer and exchange information as rapidly as possible. Technical and scientific workshops and public participation workshops on recreational development and impact should be convened at least every five years.
This is the time and this is the very special place in which to create something biologically, spiritually and economically sound for the future of Wisconsin.
The following two suggested cutting techniques are designed to emphasize natural forest processes rather than harvest product or residual tree species.
SUCCESSION CUTTING herein refers to a logging procedure in which approximately 50% of the overstory canopy closure is retained after any one harvest, regardless of overstory tree species in the stand. The intent is to encourage the growth in the understory of "intermediate" species of trees such as white pine, balsam fir, white spruce, red maple and red oak by reducing the light striking the forest floor.
It may be used in stands dominated by pioneer species such as aspen, white birch, jack pine or red (Norway) pine to simulate and thus accelerate succession to the intermediate species. It may also be used to manage the intermediate species on a sustained yield basis. The optimal percentage of canopy exposure will almost certainly vary from one species of "intermediate" to another. Experimentation via adaptive management procedures will eventually determine what is the best light regime to provide under various species and field conditions. The increased structural diversity of the stands will increase niches, especially for birds.
GAP REGENERATION CUTTING herein refers to a logging procedure in which 75-90% canopy closure remains after any one harvest, regardless of tree species in the overstory. The intent is to simulate the natural events that occur when individual trees fall down in a closed canopy, climax forest composed of shade tolerant species such as sugar maple, hemlock, yellow birch or basswood.
It will be used only to manage and maintain shade tolerant species on a sustained yield basis by severely limiting the light allowed to strike the forest floor. Additional cuts should not occur until new trees have successfully again closed the canopy. Under Big Tree Silviculture policy, some trees will succumb to natural forces and provide snags, den trees and course litter on the forest floor. The increased vertical structural diversity will provide important niches for interior forest birds.
Alverson,W. ,W.Kuhlmann and D. Waller. 1994. Wild Forests. Conservation Biology and Public Policy. island Press. Wash. DC 300pp.
Bjorkman, A.W. May, 1996. Off-road Bicycle and Hiking Trail User Interactions: A Report to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board. DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES. Offset. 124pp.
Curtis, 9.T. 1959. Vegetation of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 657pp.
DNR. 1982. Environmental Impact Assessment for the Northern Highlands- American Legion State Forest Master Plan. 92pp. Offset.
DNR. May, 1995. Wisconsin's Biodiversity as a Management Issue. A Report to Department of Natural Resources Managers. 240pp. Offset.
DNR. Sept., 1996. Master Planning Rule Document. Order of the State of Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Creating NR 1.60 and NR1.61 and ch. NR44. 34pp. Offset.
Erdmann, G . 1986. Quality in second growth stands. Proc. The Northern Hardwood Resource: Management and Potential. Mich. Tech. Univ. 18-20 Aug.
French,D.W.. and M.J.Baughman. 1992. White pine blister rust can be controlled. (In) Stine, R.E. (Ed). White Pine Symposium Proceedings: History, Ecology, Policy and Management. Univ. Minn. 200pp.
Heckman, S.T, 1992. White pine management on the Menominee and its evolutionary process. (in) Stine,R.E. (Ed). White Pine Symposium Proceedings: History, Ecology, Policy and Management. Univ. Minn. 200pp.
Katovich,S.A. 1992. White pine weevil and gypsy moth: Potential pests of eastern white pine. (In) Stine,R.E. (Ed). White Pine Symposium Proceedings: History, Ecology, Policy and Management. Univ. Minn. 200pp.
Knight, R and K. Gutzwiller. 1995. Wildlife and Recreationists: Coexistence Through Management and Research. Island Press. Wash. D.C. 372pp.
Northwest Regional Planning Commission. Feb., 1995. Community and Social Effects of Future Forest- Based Economic Development in the Lake States (Final Draft). 58pp.
Ness R., and Cooperider. 1994. Saving Natures Legend. Island Press. Wash. D.C. 415 pp.
Rogers, G., Dec., 1995. "The might-have-been State Park". Wisconsin Natural Resources. pp24-27.
Wilson, F.G. 1982. E.M. Griffith and the Early Story of Wisconsin Forestry (1903-1915). Department of Natural Resources, Madison. 67pp.
USDA Forest Service. 1994. Report on the Scientific Roundtable on Biological Diversity Convened by the Chequamegon and Nicolet National Forests. 55pp.
Wisconsin Conservation Department. 1955. History of Forestry in Wisconsin. 42pp. Stenciled.