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State works on forest plan for Cloverland

The Brule River State Forest is looking for input on a variance to its master plan. The state forest staff is hoping to make two changes to the plan that would help manage the nearly 6,000 acres of land near Cloverland obtained in 2007.

At a public meeting Dec. 12, Brule River State Forest superintendent Dave Schulz explained the proposed changes. The first reworks language to allow the installation of parking pull-offs at major access points to hunter walking trails.

When the state acquired the land near Cloverland in 2007, many hunters expressed concern. Before the Department of Natural Resources took over management, hunters had been able to ride ATVs through the area to reach their hunting destinations. Under state control, recreational motorized vehicles are prohibited.

Property managers proposed adding a road through the property, but current users of the land opposed the idea. Instead, a compromise was reached -- no new road would be added but current trails would be mowed and maintained to provide walking access for hunters.

According to Schulz, the compromise has worked so far, but a problem has arisen with the county roads leading to the property.

After the recent hunting season, residents in Cloverland complained of deep ruts along roads caused by trucks parking in the shoulders. The town asked the Wisconsin DNR to create designated spaces for hunters to park, especially along Jack Pine Road.

Under the proposed change, multiple gravel pull-offs will be added along the most heavily used roads. When the work will be completed is less clear.

"This past year was very challenging to the property," Schulz said.

The Brule River State forest lost about $16,000 funding this year and continues to operate with only two full-time management personnel. The state forest is supposed to have three full-time personnel, but has been one short for about three years now.

The other change to the Brule River State Forest's master plan is less reliant on Wisconsin's state budget. The staff wishes to amend the plan to include an additional 75 acres to the yearly harvest for management of the Cloverland area.

Before the state obtained the land, the majority of the Cloverland acreage was owned by Wausau Paper Mills and was managed to make paper products. As a result, the region is mostly covered in young aspen and birch. Recent surveys found 4,890 acres of the 5,889 parcel are covered with aspen.

"Our goal for that area is to slowly shift it to add more of the conifer component," Schulz said.

As trees are harvested, the area will be reseeded with conifers to gradually restore it to a more natural state.

At first glance, Schulz said many people think the lumber in the Cloverland section is not mature enough for harvest. Much of the aspen is very young, but Schulz said 1,159 acres have been identified as harvestable trees -- more than 40 years old.

The Brule River State Forest is accepting public comment on the variance through Jan. 12. Comments may be sent to Dave Schulz, Brule River State Forest, 6250 S. Ranger Road, Brule, WI 54820. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to david.schulz@wisconsin.gov, fax to (715) 372-4836, or by phone to (715) 372-5678.

To view the Brule River State Forest master plan in its entirety, visit www.dnr.wi.gov/master_planning/Brule/ or contact the Brule Ranger Station.

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