In 2019, Landmark Conservancy purchased 590 acres in Ashland County, now known as Tyler Forks Community Forest. The forested wetlands filter and improve the quality of the waters flowing through its three miles of streams and the Tyler Forks River. The forest, steep ravines, kettles, valleys, ridges, and upland areas serve as a sanctuary for native wildlife. Protection and management of the forest, which shares a border with Copper Falls State Park, will preserve the area’s natural resources while increasing its recreational value and providing economic benefits for Wisconsin’s Great Northwest Region.
Many community and conservation partners came together to support the $725,650 effort, including Ashland County, Town of Morse, Trout Unlimited, Northland College, trails and hunting clubs, and the Cozy Valley Community. With such broad support, Landmark Conservancy was able to secure state and federal funds to purchase the property, including a $362,900 matching grant from Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship and the highly competitive U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest programs.
Tyler Forks’ biologically rich forest and riverine environment acts as a buffer to protect water quality in the Bad River watershed, the Kakagon Slough estuary, and Lake Superior, while providing a contiguous, critical year-round habitat for various plants and animals, including brook trout. It also serves as a vital habitat for neo-tropical migratory birds.
The managed forest and wetland areas increase northwest Wisconsin’s resiliency to climate change. Unique characteristics of the landscape provide scientists with an excellent outdoor laboratory to study hydrology, geology, soil, and forest ecology.
In 2018, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources conducted an extensive analysis of the state’s recreational needs and found that 80 percent of survey participants wanted more recreational areas in Wisconsin’s Great Northwest Region.
Copper Falls State Park attracts over 200,000 visitors each year. With the permanent protection of Tyler Forks Community Forest, more people will have opportunities to enjoy non-motorized, public recreation such as hiking, hunting, fishing, trapping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and watching birds and wildlife.
Featured image courtesy of Landmark Conservancy, 2020.