Cross country skis sit against a ski rack at Minoqua's Winter Park, whose purchase was made possible by Wisconsin's Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

Silent Sports in the Northwoods

The Northwoods Land Trust secures access to ski, snowshoe, and fat bike trails

Minocqua Winter Park has been a destination for Northwoods winter enthusiasts for over 40 years, offering over 100 km of ski, snowshoe, and fat bike trails appropriate for all abilities. But forest fragmentation had created challenges to protecting the trails, which are primarily on private lands. With long-term land use agreements in place and a 2011 conservation easement permanently protecting 3200 acres (the largest in Wisconsin Land Trust history), most of Minocqua Winter Park’s critical trails were well protected.

In 2017, Northwoods Land Trust had the opportunity to protect one of the remaining key parcels. The Tyler Family, good friends of Minocqua Winter Park, graciously had allowed ski trails on their property for many years. When the family decided to sell the property, Northwoods Land Trust started to work on a plan to purchase the land. After nearly a year of planning, fundraising, and support from the Minocqua Town Board and the Minocqua-Arbor Vitae-Woodruff Chamber of Commerce, Northwoods Land Trust applied for and received a $166,229 grant from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to help buy the land.

Northwoods Land Trust matched the grant through a fundraising campaign and the value of a 96-acre Lac du Flambeau property known as the Marshall Wildlife Conservation Area previously gifted to the land trust. Once the purchase was complete, Northwoods Land Trust deeded the property to the non-profit Minocqua Winter Park Trail with a conservation easement to protect the property forever

Minocqua Winter Park attracts over 14,000 visitors to this silent-sport mecca each year, providing a significant boost to the Northwoods’ winter economy. The cooperative efforts of local officials, Winter Park board members, and the Northwoods Land Trust staff have helped to ensure that this gem of the Northwoods will remain safe and secure for generations to come.

Authored by; Pat McMurtrie, Dave Kozeluh, Ted Anchor – Aug 2020

Featured image courtesy of the Northwoods Land Trust, 2020.

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