A PLAN FOR RESTORATION
PROPOSED By FRIENDS OF THE BRULE RIVER AND FOREST
for the Brule River State Forest Master Planning
I. Protecting A Crown Jewel of Wisconsin
The Bois Brule River and its riparian lands are one of the crown jewels among the public lands held in trust for the people of Wisconsin. The Brule is singular in all of Wisconsin's State-owned lands because it combines:
This unique combination of attributes calls for special recognition and management that sets it apart from Wisconsin's other public lands and Wisconsin's State Forests.
- The finest spring-fed trout stream in the Upper Midwest;
- An extraordinary scenic and whitewater paddling experience;
- The voyageur's earliest path from Lake Superior to the Mississippi basin;
- A rich post-settlement cultural heritage exemplified by Presidential visits, great lodges, and the preservation of special riparian lands by private inholders;
- High quality scenic values in the small lakes and hiking and skiing trails that are within the state forest; and
- Rare ecological features, including bogs and the boreal forest of Superior's South Shore.
In contrast, when compared to other sources of timber in the region, the Brule River State Forest's upland acreage capable of timber harvest is neither unique nor does it make up of available timber by any measure. Devoting any significant portion of this unique and relatively small area within the public lands system of the State to the purpose of producing a tiny fraction of timber supply makes little sense when the "highest and best use" of these lands for the citizens of the State is plainly found in the combination of unique features highlighted above. Both the residents of the immediate region and faithful visitors from around the State have come to recognize that the days of farming the public lands in the Brule valley for an insignificant timber volume must end, and the era of restoring the Brule watershed -- its land and water -- to its rightful place as a Wisconsin treasure must begin.
Many of us have quietly cruised past the Winneboujou and crossed our necks to see the giant white pines, enjoyed the low-hanging white cedars crowding the upper river, tramped through balsam and birch toward a sparkling lake, and silently lofted a fly to a dark but clear pool, all the while knowing we stood in the path of a rich history of human inhabitants of this comer of the western Great Lakes (from native hunter-gatherers, to voyageurs, to Presidents). Yet in modem history, private timber barons logged off much of this region, and even very recently, our state government has laid clearcuts across and along side our favorite hiking and skiing trails, beside roadways, and near the headwaters of creeks feeding the precious Bois Brule. Visitors are greeted by thickets of aspen, linear plantations of red pine, and logging operations designed to "improve" a forest which we (and many native species) loved better in its wilder state.
The fundamental choice faced in this new round of forest planning for the Brule is whether the goal should be a "fully-regulated" forest (meaning one in which timber is logged promptly at its "rotation age" to derive optimal yield of board feet, and avoid "wasting" the small potential timber supply of the area), or whether scenic, recreational, and ecological values should become the dominant management goals, with other activities such as logging folded within these primary uses. For us, this is an easy choice. Pulp sources abound in the region, but only the Brule valley provides the extraordinary mix of eagles, rapids, trout, bogs, wildflowers, beautiful trails, and Northwoods history; an experience that is now so rare in our State and Nation.
We ask that you join us in support of protecting one of the crown jewels of Wisconsin, and support our proposal for the new Master Plan for the Brule River State Forest.
-- Friends of the Brule River and Forest