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Brule River State Forest expands

The Brule River State Forest is on track to expand by 80 acres after a land acquisition was approved at the Natural Resources Board meeting Oct. 22.

Gov. Jim Doyle must now approve the proposed purchase before the state forest can act. Dave Schulz, superintendent of the Brule River State Forest, said Doyle typically approves measures that have been moved forward by the natural resources board.

The property the state forest hopes to acquire is located in east-central Douglas County near Solon Springs.

The purchase is part of the natural land acquisition within the lines of the state forest's boundary to acquire new lands. New acquisition goals were set when the state forest expanded its acquisition boundaries in 2002. The Brule River State Forest is always interested in purchasing land within its boundaries from willing sellers, according to Schulz.

The state forest acreage goal is 82,650 acres. About 50,900 acres are currently under state ownership.

The state forest is home to a wide variety of birds and mammals not commonly found in other areas of northern Wisconsin. Most public land in the Brule River State Forest is open to hunting and trapping in season.

The 80-acre parcel of land near Solon Springs is mostly forested and is appraised at $224,000. According to the proposal submitted to the Natural Resources Board, the majority of trees are "hardwoods of pole-sized timber with scattered saw timber." Aspen, oak and white birch are the dominant trees on the land, which should provided a good habitat for grouse, deer and woodcock.

The land also includes 2,300 feet of frontage on Smith Lake, a shallow seepage lake about 5 feet deep and 30 acres in size. With the acquisition, the state would own almost all of the Smith Lake shoreline.

"Those undeveloped lakes that are still out there are very valuable for wildlife and scenic beauty," Schulz said.

The lake could also be opened for kayaking, canoeing and other recreation once the state forest decides upon a management plan.