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Ottawa National Forest and Trust for Public Land secure 1,200 acres along West Branch of Ontonagon River

Courtesy of Trust for Public Land or TPL

The Ottawa National Forest is growing more than just trees.

It recently purchased 1,200 acres of land that straddles the West Branch of the Ontonagon River.

The West Branch of the Ontonagon River stretches from an outlet of Lake Gogebic to the dam at Victoria Reservoir.

For decades, portions of the land along its flanks was owned and managed by timber companies.

In November of last year, The Trust for Public Land bought 1,247 acres of that land from Lyme Timber.

“The west branch of the Ontonagon River is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River for its beauty and environmental importance, so protecting the land, the 1,200 acres that straddle that wonderful wild and scenic river was really, really important to the Ottawa National Forest,” said Susan Schmidt, Upper Midwest Regional Director for TPL.

While a national organization that’s been around since 1972, Schmidt says TPL has been putting focus on lands throughout the northern parts of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin for the last 30 years or so.

“The iconic Northwoods, you know the Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters, the National Forest, the North Country Trail, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and more is where really millions of Upper Midwesterners visit every year and protecting these important lands forever is part of our mission in the Upper Midwest,” said Schmidt.

Courtesy of Trust for Public Land or TPL

Over the years, TPL has help secure more than 43,000 acres for the Ottawa National Forest.

The Forest Service bought these latest 1,200 acres with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Schmidt says there were several reasons this land was worth protecting.

Alongside its environmental value of protecting the Ontonagon River watershed, it’s also has great recreation value.

A portion of the 4,800-mile long North Country Trail passes through it.

“This segment was critical to them. They’ve been able to use it because the owner, Lyme Timber the prior owner, was nice enough to let them use it, but now it’s permanent. It’s a permanent connection. They can hike through and be comfortable it will be there for their kids and their kids, kids,” said Schmidt.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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