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Van Vliet Among State Natural Areas Highlighted By DNR

Wisconsin DNR

Northern Wisconsin has one of the premier state Natural Areas and the DNR suggests winter is a good time   to explore.

A DNR spokesperson says there are more thanks to expansions of these sites over the past decade and increased staff and volunteer capacity to manage them.

Carly Lapin is a DNR ecologist. She says natural areas are set aside to protect Wisconsin's native landscape, natural communities, geologic formations and archeological sites. These sites can be within state lands, private lands, land trusts, local or county government. She says they're used for research and education, impact of use on land and other factors. One of the noted sites is the Van Vliet Hemlocks in Vilas county...

"Van Vliet State Natural Area was designated in 2013 and is owned by the DNR. It's an ecologically significant area of undeveloped lake frontage in Vilas county. It also contains large stands of hemlock and old-growth forest. There are also some forested lands and bogs on the property. Hemlock is fairly rare on our landscape compared to what was here during the time of European settlement. This is a large, old-growth area so it has not been harvested..."

In the last decade, the number of State Natural Areas grew from 602 to 692 and to to 404,000 acres. Some natural areas were new designations on existing state properties, while others were new land acquisitions or donations.

Although the DNR holds more than half of these sites in trust for Wisconsinites, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and more than 50 other partners own and manage sites under a system established in 1951 that was spurred by Aldo Leopold and other Wisconsin conservation leaders.

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