SPLINTER – The Newsletter and Forum of the Friends of the Brule River & Forest

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Dear Members;

I’d like to thank everyone who had the opportunity last fall to attend the public hearing in Brule or to write to the DNR on the ‘Preferred Alternative’ for the Master Plan of the Brule River State Forest.

Our input to this process remains vital to protecting and preserving a unique resource in northern Wisconsin. Although the ‘Preferred Alternative’ refers to restoration as a perceived goal, many of the silvaculture management tools will only enhance the deer herd size and will not reduce the plantations in favor of native plant and animal communities. The ‘Preferred Alternative’ looks very much like the forestry management that was occurring in the BRSF fifteen years ago, five years ago and last year. Truly restorative management practices were few and far between.

I am pleased to report that many other organizations and individuals across the state joined us in expressing the same concerns about the ‘Preferred Alternative’. In the year to come, we will continue to provide a voice for sensible resource management that does not ignore the historical and ecological significance of the FBRF. Please ask your friends to join us.

I hope you will mark your calendars to attend the Annual Meeting on June `15 and our Forest Tour in the autumn. Plans are being finalized for an ‘old growth’ experience in the upper peninsula of Michigan. We will send more information later.


Kay McNeil Saari

A SUMMARY The Historic Brule State Forest: A Plan for Restoration (Proposed by the Friends of the Brule River and Forest, Inc. 1998)

This plan was developed following the adoption into law of Assembly Bill 575, which changed the emphasis of state forestry from silvaculture to MULTI-USE management. It is intended to provide for our state forest managers on formulating a ‘Master Plan’ for our beloved resource. The Brule River State Forest was established to protect this unique trout stream’s watershed, and borders approximately one mile on each side of the river from its springs and headwaters to its mouth at Lake Superior. Recent inventories by the Bureau of Endangered Resources report that over 60 species of plants and animals in the Brule River State Forest are listed as rare and endangered.

The plan calls for the ecological restoration, to every extent possible, to its original pre-settlement tree cover for the protection of the watershed and for the continuing improvement of the biodiversity of species within the area. This can be accomplished by passive management, although the plan also strongly encourages the careful thinning of plantations in the BRSF.

The restoration plan incorporates the land use classification categories and recreational settings to the soil/forest types, which are ecologically compatible and are required by NR44.

Pulp sources abound in the region, from industrial, county and private woodlots, but only the Brule Valley provides the extraordinary mix of eagles, trout, bogs wildflowers, canoeing, rapids, trails and northwoods history; an experience that is vanishing from our state landscape. I believe the Brule River was visited and fished by five Presidents, not because of the great value of its timber harvest, but rather because of the “Old Growth” or Climax forest that has been a historic part Brule. It is a shame in showing a vestige of this forest to the Natural Resource Board, which oversees the Department, there had to be a visit to Private land holdings to picture this concept on the BRSF. Ron Johnson Wildlife Biologist Iron River, WI


From ECCOLA (Environmentally Concerned Citizens of the Lakeland area)

By John Schwarzmann, Secretary/Treasurer

In Conclusion, the (DNR’s) preferred alternative doesn’t do enough to recognize and protect the unique resources of the Brule River, Spillway, Bog and adjoining remnant boreal forests. Unfortunately, many options would further fragment the landscape and exacerbate current conditions that are leading to region-wide regeneration failures and the loss of rare communities such as boreal forest, cedar swamps and pine barrens. FBRF RECEIVES GRANTS

Through the effective efforts of Roger Anderson, Development Director and Board member, and other Friends, the FBRF has been acknowledged with important grants. Grants have been received from the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Brule River Preservation, Inc., Natural Resources Foundation, WI, Winnebujou Club, and the Brule River Sportsman’s Club. These grants have allowed the FBRF to publish a brochure, create and maintain a web site and publish an endangered species field guide.

PROFESSOR COMMENTS ON FOREST RESTORATION Jim Meeker, Associate Professor of Natural Resources & Biology, Northland College published an article in the College’s periodical, Horizons, Fall 2001. The article was entitled, Restoration: A Broader View of Conservation. He notes that passive recovery of forests cutover at the turn of the 20th Century is not working as hoped. An overabundant deer population, and the persistent invasion of non-native species are hampering regeneration of hemlock, Canada yew and white cedar. He feels active forest restoration efforts are needed, but using intact forests in the lake states as reference points. (How about the Winnebujou for parts of the FBRF?,ed.) He believes that preservation and restoration should be melded into forest conservation efforts using three principles:

1. Examine the impacts of local decisions over a wider region. 2. Retain large contiguous blocks of connected areas that contain critical habitat, minimizing the introduction and spread of non-invasive species. It is interesting to note that in commenting on the Master Plan Preferred Alternative, Paul Kent, legal consultant for the FBRF states that “Management of the Brule Forest should not be unduly fragmented.” He continues “Given its small size, we believe it is important not to fragment the management of this resource if we are looking toward the long-term maintenance of sustainable forest communities and ecosystems.” 3. Implement land-management practices that are compatible with the natural potential of the area.

He concludes, “We do need to step back and recognize these lands where we will tread lightly. In doing so, we will move closer to a broader concept of conservation, one that includes both restoration and preservation. Maybe then our grand-children can look forward to walks in conifer-rich ravines and through uplands with abundant native wild- flowers growing under towering sugar maples and basswoods.”




It’s January and I am looking out at the snow and cold. My thoughts go back to those lovely days in June after our rainy, cold spring. But all of the sudden my thoughts are interrupted by thoughts of those darn tent caterpillars, which we un-affectionately call “Army Worms”.

Last summer was the worst. Slimy worms crawling everywhere, creating their sticky yellow cocoons on trees, houses and everything in sight. And the poor trees — not a leaf have they left uneaten. Supposedly they prefer Popple (Aspen), but they munched on our Oaks, Spruce, flowers, and fruit trees too.

Where have they come from? Clear-cutting our natural bio-diverse forests to create aspen plantations is the main problem of our northern forests. The slimy creatures chew the leaves (have you noticed the barren Aspen trees in late June?), spin their cocoons and wait to be resurrected. Following the worms, the big black flies. They don’t bite people, but they do land on everything.

How to prevent the worms? The exterminating companies can’t do anything because the worms are an outside pest that they don’t treat. I have read that a good soapy spray of Dawn soap and water on house and trees will take care of the little monsters, but I have a better long-range plan.

More NATURAL forests, more BIO-DIVERSITY, no more clear-cutting creating Popple plantations. The tourist industry would be overjoyed and the June brides would be forever grateful.

FBRF Board of Directors ’01-02:

President Kay McNeil Saari 1st Vice President Sally Vilas Whiffen 2nd Vice President Diana Solin Secretary Milt Holmquist Treasurer Glenn Steinke Development Roger Anderson Communications Mary Steinke

Board Members:

Crystal Bergren John Cumming Jeff Hart Tom Heffernan


In the spring of 2001 salvage work began in the upper Brule River Valley to address the effects of hail damage from a storm of the previous August. The forestry plan was primarily concerned with fire hazards and fiber production in the storm impacted acreage. Over 2200 acres of jack pine and red pine plantations, aspen thickets and mixed forest types of the region are being clear-cut. Most of the harvested acreage will be ‘reforested’ in red pine plantation.

The ‘Friends’ have expressed concerns regarding several management issues on the salvage site: Was adequate review given to the plan by water quality, wildlife, and endangered species and landscape specialists? And why were clear-cuts done to the edges of the Wilson Creek and Beaupre Springs and also, right up next to the highway?


The Brule River State Forest is unique among Wisconsin state forests with its unusual character and three distinct eco regions. The Brule River State Forest borders the Brule River in a very narrow strip. Its primary function would seem to be a buffer along the watershed to help protect this unique and valuable resource. Logging, especially clear cutting, in the forest appears to be in conflict regarding maintenance of water quality and any level of biodiversity. Logging on this property does not seem appropriate.

Much of the Brule State Forest is being managed as cropland. How can we view our precious land as a true forest when much of its use is devoted to pine plantations and aspen trees with age rotation uses as a harvest plan?

In reviewing the Master Plan Preferred Alternative, legal consultant to the FBRF, Paul Kent, commented on the uniqueness of the BRSF by stating “We believe that management practices that protect the unique values this forest provides ought to take priority over those practices that address the aspects of the forest that are not unique.” He continues by noting that the Preferred Alternative recommends that more than 25% of the entire BRSF be devoted to forest production. Therefore, the Preferred Alternative fails to address the uniqueness of the BRSF.


In 2002, the ‘Friends’ will begin work on a new Field Guide. This one will focus on the historical landmarks and sites in the Brule River State Forest. We will be looking for information on such events as the Clevedon Colony, the Portage Trail, the copper mine sited, some of the Chippewa encampments, etc. If you have a source or existing historical data, please forward it to: Friends of the Brule, P.O. Box 146, Brule, WI. 54820.


Mary Steinke John Steinke Glenn Steinke


Les Solin Diana Solin Kay McNeil Saari


The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service demanding a halt to logging of aspen trees in national forests in three states, including Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet. By allowing clearcuts to promote aspen growth, the suit says, the Forest Service is preventing restoration of native species such as white pine and northern hardwoods lost during the lumber-barron era a century ago.