Conservancy group purchases 70K acres of northern forest

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Virginia-based conservancy group announced Wednesday that it has purchased 70,000 acres of forest in northern Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported The Conservation Fund bought the land known as the Pelican River Forest. The sale price wasn’t released. The group has protected about 113,000 acres in Wisconsin thus far.

The forest includes 16 parcels located mostly in Oneida County. The land straddles the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds.

A succession of companies have owned the land, including Consolidated Papers. The Conservation Fund says it will protect wildlife habitat while continuing sustainable timber harvesting as well as recreational uses such as hunting and fishing.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials are working on purchasing an easement on about 12,500 acres of the forest. The DNR’s policy board approved the $4.7 million deal in June, with the money coming from the state’s land stewardship program. The agreement is expected to be finalized in the coming months.

The easement would allow the public year-round foot access.