Sunday, April 28, 2019

Northwoods Land Trust Proposes Shoreline Preservation in Iron County

The Northwoods Land Trust works with private landowners 
who wish to protect their natural lake and river shorelines.

     Thanks to a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Lake Protection program project, owners of large stretches of natural shorelines on lakes and flowages in Iron County are now being encouraged to consider lasting, voluntary protection of their lake properties. According to Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) executive director Bryan Pierce, the lake project is based on highly-successful private lake shoreland protection projects conducted over the last ten years by NWLT in Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Florence and Price Counties.

      “The DNR’s Wisconsin Lakes publication indicates that there are a total of 494 lakes in Iron County,” said Pierce. “These include 217 named and 277 unnamed lakes. The grant project is utilizing NWLT’s geographic information system (GIS) computer technology to identify all remaining privately-owned lake parcels with a minimum of about 500 feet of natural shoreline frontage.”

      Pierce explained that the project uses tax parcel maps and other data developed through the Iron County GIS Office. Digital parcel maps and aerial orthophotos are overlaid where needed to determine the extent of natural versus developed frontage. 

Naturalist John Bates conducts an ecological assessment
for Meta Reigel Brandt for her 215-acre
conservation agreement granted to Northwoods Land Trust.

      “The selected lake parcels have now been mapped on the GIS system for each town,” said Pierce. “Within those maps we have identified a total of 572 lake and flowage parcels with 500 feet or more of natural shoreline remaining on privately-owned land. These parcels are owned by 274 private landowners.”

      “The parcels are then linked with the Iron County tax roll database to generate a mailing list of these landowners,” Pierce stated. “Copies of NWLT’s Landowner’s Conservation Guide will be mailed this spring to each of these identified lake property owners. As with our previous projects, volunteers are assisting us with assembling all of the landowner packets to prepare them for bulk mailing.” 
      Pierce noted that the lake protection project runs through the end of 2020. NWLT provides on-site technical assistance to any of those lake property owners who wish to permanently protect their land along these natural shorelines.

      “We have already been successful in completing six conservation easement donations with interested property owners in Iron County. Those projects have included permanent protection of over 27,000 feet (5 miles) of natural lake, river and stream shorelines and 680 acres of shoreland, woodland and wetland habitats. These successful projects have already leveraged well over $1 million of charitable contribution values through those conservation easement donations.
“With a conservation easement, the natural shorelines are protected in perpetuity, but the land remains privately owned and managed and it is still subject to property taxes,” said Pierce. “The lands can be sold or passed on to heirs, but whoever owns the land in the future must retain its conservation values. Any access to the property for outdoor recreation is still up to the consent of the individual property owners.”

The Northwoods Land Trust also purchased the 38-acre Interstate Falls property just west of the intersection of U.S. Highways 2 and 51. That scenic property was then gifted to the Town of Kimball to remain a valuable scenic tourism attraction and conservation area in perpetuity.

      The Northwoods Land Trust is a volunteer and member-supported nonprofit conservation organization. For more information on the Iron County lakes project, contact the NWLT office at (715) 479-2490.

Springstead Lake.jpg – About 3,800 feet of natural shoreline on Springstead Lake was protected in perpetuity by Meta Reigel Brandt through the Northwoods Land Trust.

The Northwoods Land Trust works with private landowners who wish to protect their natural lake and river shorelines.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

ICLRA presents Sandy Wickman, UW Extension Lakes, to speak on Lake Testing, July 22

Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance, Inc., will present Sandy Wickman, Outreach Specialist with UW Extension Lakes, to speak at their next meeting on Saturday, July 22nd at 9:00 AM at the Mercer Community Center. Sandy’s topic will be citizen lake testing, including how the data collected in the last 32 years has been used and how citizens can access that data to check the health of their lakes. She will provide information on the type of data collected, such as water clarity, invasive species, chemistry, etc. and how citizens can get involved in the process. She will be able to pull up information on specific Iron County lakes from the DNR website. Ms. Wickman has worked in this capacity for 20 years.

Following the presentation and a question-answer session, ICLRA will hold their annual business meeting. Members and other interested lake and river enthusiasts are invited to stay and learn what ICLRA does. Membership dues must be paid before the start of the business meeting in order for attendees to vote on officers and other issues. Election of President and Secretary will be held.

Iron County Lakes Alliance was formed in 2001 and became the Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance in 2012. The purpose of this non-profit organization is to protect county waters through education and communication and to advocate for riparian owners and lake and river associations in county and state government. Membership is open to lake and river associations as well as to individuals. Programs are free and open to the public. For more information or to make your voice heard by joining ICLRA, Inc., email , call 715-476-2881, and come to the meeting July 22nd.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Family Free Fishing Coming to Iron County June 3rd

On the first Saturday in June no fishing licenses are required in Wisconsin. So, this year the event will stress family fishing.  

Get out on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage with knowledgeable guides.  

The Flowage is among the finest fisheries in Wisconsin. But, it's huge and you have to know where the hot spots are.  Our experts will provide not only the boat and motor but they will divulge that secret information as they escort you and your family. The  Iron County 4H will provide rods and reels for those that don't have them and our friends at the Turtle River Trading and Flambeau Flowage Sports serve up free bait.  Just, don't let the big one get away!

Fish from shore with the guidance of Iron County Land and Water staff and members of the Mercer High School Fishing Team.

Tie a Fly

Bob Traczyk of Trout Unlimited will be on hand to teach fly tying (tie you own creation).  He will also provide fly fishing instruction from the beautiful shore and fishing dock at the Lake of the Falls park.  Will your fly creation fool a lunker?

Win a Prize

Drawings for prizes of fishing tackle and gear will occur at 2:00 PM.

Get a Free Lunch

At noon, we will serve up her famous brats, butterdogs and more.  

It's all free, but register before June 1st

To help us plan and so that we don't have too much or too little food, please tell us that you're coming. Give us  your name and the number in your party. 

Phone [715] 476 2881 


Send an email to:

For directions to the park and more information visit:

Sponsoring this year's event are:

Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance
Iron County Land and Water Conservation Department
Iron County 4H
Mercer Chamber of Commerce

With special thanks to:

Flambeau Flowage Sports at:


Turtle River Trading  at:


Snow's IGA, Mercer

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Conservation Specialist, Zach Wilson, to speak on the health of Iron County waters at ICLRA program, July 23rd.

With its 494 Lakes, 222 named streams totaling 633 linear miles, and 84 classified trout streams, the health of our water is pretty important to Iron County residents and visitors. Join Conservation Specialist, Zach Wilson, for an update on the status of the health of Your lake or river.  Join us at the annual Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance meeting, Saturday, July 23rd at 9:00 AM at the Mercer Community Center for an update on the status of our water and how to get involved in monitoring water quality in Iron County. Zach Wilson from the Iron County Land and Water Conservation Department will discuss how our waters fare regarding invasive species, shoreline restorations, water quality monitoring, and how we can improve our lakes and streams.

Since early childhood, Zach Wilson has spent much of his time “in the woods and waters of Iron County”. A hunter, trapper, fisherman, wilderness adventurer, graduate of Northland College, Zach now works for the Iron County Land and Water Conservation Department. Previously he worked in over 15 countries, was the senior naturalist for the North Lakeland Discovery Center for 15 years, the Director for the Mercer Environmental Tourism Charter School for 3 years, and a private business owner of Northwood’s Learning Adventures and Ecological Consulting.  Zach serves as the coordinator for the Woods & Waters project in which high school students from Iron County study the ecology of the American marten and common loon. He is a licensed bird bander, coordinates multiple citizen science monitoring projects and has experience coordinating aquatic and terrestrial invasive species education programs.  In addition to his vast naturalist background he has also worked as a forest ecologist for the Board of Commissioners of Public lands. Zach’s philosophy?  Act locally; think globally.

Following Zach’s presentation, ICLRA will hold their annual business meeting. Iron County Lakes Alliance was formed in 2001 and became the Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance in 2012. The purpose of this non-profit organization is to protect county waters through education and communication and to advocate for riparian owners and lake and river associations in county and state government. Membership is open to lake and river associations and to individuals. Programs are free and open to the public. For more information or to make your voice heard by joining ICLRA, email or call 715-476-2881.

 On a very sad note, Mitch Koski, former mayor of Montreal Wisconsin, Iron County Board member and first responder died while trying to save boats at Iron County’s Saxon Harbor Marina.  He and his wife were acting as hosts at the campground and marina.  The county sheriff came and warned them a of wall of water coming off of the Penokee’s.  Mitch’s wife left but he stayed trying to save as many boats as possible.  As he was leaving, the flood from the creek swept his truck into the lake.  The newly constructed marina is said to be a total loss.  The U.S. Weather Service rated the storm as the second 200 year storm in four years.  Many roads are closed in Northern Iron and Ashland counties due to washed out bridges.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

ICLRA presents Senator Janet Bewley and Bob Martini, DNR retired, on new shoreland zoning regulations, June 29

As the number and size of waterfront houses increased, shoreland zoning regulations became necessary to protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and property values. In 2015 the Wisconsin legislature has relaxed that protection and prohibited local control of shoreland zoning.
On Wednesday June 29th Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance will sponsor a program on the changes in shoreland zoning enacted by the legislature.  Join us at the Pines Beer Garden in Mercer, at 6:00PM, when Wisconsin state senator Janet Bewley will discuss the loss of local control over our waters. Bob Martini, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, retired, will explain how the new laws affect shoreline protection.

Janet Bewley represents Wisconsin’s 25th Senate District, which covers 7,500 square miles in northwestern Wisconsin along both the Minnesota and Michigan borders and the shore of Lake Superior.  She was elected to the Senate in the fall of 2014 after serving two terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly.  Janet’s 30-year professional career in northern Wisconsin includes serving as Senior Community Development Officer at the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Dean of Students at Northland College and Executive Director of the Mary H. Rice Foundation.  Janet’s work for WHEDA included travel to every corner of northern Wisconsin. 

Bob Martini served 32 years at DNR leading the Wisconsin River cleanup, acid rain research, Central Sands groundwater work, and dam licensing/removal work statewide. He won the DNR's Brogan award in 1983 and was given the North American River Management Society Career Achievement award in 2014. In retirement he has served on about a dozen boards related to environmental protection and higher education.

It is important for citizens to understand how the recent legislation influences not only protection of water and wildlife and fish habitat, but also the value of real estate. Previously counties and municipalities could make rules more restrictive than state laws to protect the shores of the lakes and rivers within those jurisdictions. Rules such as waterfront lot size, dock size, and filling of wetlands must now comply with state law.  Come to the Pines at 6:00 PM, June 29th to learn the significance of these changes.

Iron County Lakes Alliance was formed in 2001 and became the Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance in 2012. The purpose of this non-profit organization is to protect county waters through education and communication and to advocate for riparian owners and lake and river associations in county and state government. Membership is open to lake and river associations and to individuals. Programs are free and open to the public. For more information or to make your voice heard by joining ICLRA, email or call 715-476-2881. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Shoreland Zoning Rule Repeal Update

Yesterday we received the following update on the effort being made to repeal the recent changes to shoreland zoning and local control at the state level.  John Richter and the Plum Lake Association of Vilas County are spearheading this effort.  Also on record as being opposed to the legislation are the Wisconsin Counties Association and the boards of all Wisconsin counties.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2015

We have reached $50,000 of contributions for our legal and legislative effort.  We seem to be averaging 3 to 6 letters a day bringing contributions and I am adding the names of the lakes to the footer below as they come in.  Our expenses to date consist of the retainers for the law firm and the lobbyist of $12,500 total and  fees to the state for registering the organization and principal of another $500 total.  I would like to use this letter format as a form of stationery for our future letters and hope to get the bugs out of the process soon - this is not exactly my strong suit, but I will keep at it.  As you can see, we have 41 organizations on board now and a few more still out there who have contacted us.  Our goal is to spread our reach south and our people are talking to interested groups on Pewaukee Lake, Big Green Lake and Geneva Lake.  If there is a neighboring lake association that is not on the list below - please pass on our email and whatever info you have and ask them to join us.

Individual contributions have been coming in regularly and we are planning to begin our individual campaign through our lake associations and other sources this coming week.  As we develop our capabilities, we will develop of listing of individuals like the list below.  Our letters to assist you in this effort are drafted for your use and we will be sending them out next week.  This effort is awaiting the update on our progress on both fronts, which I now believe will happen next week.  At that time I will be able to get more specific on what we have been working on and how the legislation is coming together.  I appreciate your patience but I know you are aware of the situation.  Our Initiative is growing and our progress has been very good.  The response from Republican legislators has also been excellent.

My most sincere thanks for your dedication to our lakes and for stepping up and joining us in this effort.  We obviously could not do this alone and it was both reassuring and heart warming to get such wonderful response so quickly.  Please send this on to your members and other lake associations.




Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kit Bogenschneider's Tribute to the Waters of Iron County and Beyond

"I was quite surprised that these early morning paddles
often stirred my sense of smell, and I could pick up the aromas of
pine trees, sewaweed, wood fires, bacon frying at the campground."
At the ICLRA fall meeting on Saturday September 12th Kit Bogenschneider of Mercer Wisconsin's own Loony Paddlers, ladies kayaking group, presented an inspiring tribute to the waters of Iron County and beyond.  We have long maintained that we Iron County residents and visitors are privileged to exist in one of the last unspoiled parts of the great North Woods.  Kit's narrative and pictures captured the treasure that is Iron County.

"Then I would turn around and if I were especially lucky,
 the moon would light my path home.  Oh, how
I wanted to share my experiences with my friends."

 Thanks Kit, for all you do for Mercer!

You can enjoy Kit's entire presentation here.