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Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest Starts to Tackle Maintenance Backlog

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

The Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest will be able to check nine projects of its deferred maintenance list this year.

Technical Services Staff Officer Mark Beuning said some projects, like the First South Branch Oconto River snowmobile trail bridge replacement, has been on the list for nearly 9 years.

“The other projects address deferred maintenance that have been accumulating for decades. Various types of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, culverts and developed recreation sites,” said Beuning.

The Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest got more than $2 million from the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund which was created with the passing of the Great American Outdoors Act last year.

Some of the projects include bridge replacements and repairs near Smith Rapids Recreation Area and St. Peter’s Dome to make sure people can safely access these areas.

Others are improved stream crossings to support fish habitat improvements in parts of Price and Forest counties.

Beuning said the Forest Service worked with local partners a couple years ago to identify the types of use and recreation people are most interested in.

That helped them determine which projects they should prioritize.

“Our focus was on important maintenance projects that were ready to implement, will improve conditions, enhance visitor experiences, strengthen the local economies, and expand goodwill access to recreation sites,” said Beuning.

Beuning said the Forest Service will be contracting out to get these projects done.

“The investments will enhance recreation access to the public lands. They’re going to promote private-public partnerships and conserve the working forests vital local economies and project vital watersheds and wildlife habitat,” said Beuning.

This is full list of projects slated for this year within the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest:

  • Structural repairs at Lost Lake Recreation Area to restore the historic facilities that host nearly 3,000 visitors each year
  • Bridge replacement on Forest Road 144 near the Smith Rapids Recreation Area to provide continued access for recreational visitors, road maintenance and timber hauling operations
  • Forest Road 187 bridge rehabilitation to improve access to Morgan Falls St. Peter’s Dome Recreation Area and to support road maintenance and timber projects
  • Reconstruction of Forest Road 2123, including replacement of a McCaslin Brook stream crossing, to support trout habitat, timber hauling and access to Ada Lake Recreation Area and Boot Lake Recreation Area
  • Completing essential road maintenance and repairs at four recreation sites: Valhalla Recreation Area near Washburn, Wanoka Lake Recreation Area near Iron River, Picnic Point Campground near Medford, and Luna-White Deer Lake Recreation Area near Eagle River
  • Replacement of the Willow Creek crossing on Forest Road 130 in the Town of Emery to improve the aquatic habitat and ensure a safe and sustainable road for public and commercial use
  • Brunsweiler River trail bridge replacement on the North Country National Scenic Trail, one of only 11 national scenic trails, which draw visitors from around the world to rural communities
  • First South Branch Oconto River snowmobile trail bridge replacement to improve safety and snowmobile access to the local communities
  • Replacement of the Kentuck Creek crossing on Forest Road 2176 in the Town of Phelps to support aquatic passage and recreational access to hunting, fishing, and the Kentuck Lake Recreation Area

The Great American Outdoors Act authorizes funding under the Legacy Restoration Fund annually through 2025.

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