Public meeting set for Northeast Sands master plan

The Northeast Sands Ecological Landscape is shown in the darkened area. A public meeting will be held June 26 in Florence to offer more information about the planning process and to accept comments on the properties’ future management and use.

FLORENCE, Wis. — The public has an opportunity through an upcoming open house, office hours, and online information to learn more about the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ regional master planning process for properties located in the Northeast Sands Ecological Landscape.

This landscape encompasses portions of Florence, Marinette, Oconto, Menominee, and Shawano counties.

A master plan, guided by Chapter NR 44, Wis. Admin. Code, establishes the level and type of resource management and public use permitted on department-managed properties. Under the regional master planning process, department staff will develop a plan for all properties located within a defined region.

The regions are based on 16 previously defined ecological landscapes in Wisconsin, distinct areas of the state that present different ecological attributes and management opportunities. The Natural Resources Board approved the regional planning process at the June 2017 board meeting.

Properties within the Northeast Sands that already have NR 44-compliant master plans will have these existing plans referenced during the planning process. Approximately 31,000 acres of DNR-managed lands will have new master plans developed. These lands contain a wide variety of habitats and features, including extensive forests and high-quality forest communities, pine-oak barrens and bracken grasslands, wild rivers and cold-water streams, wetlands, and waterfalls.

Meyers Falls on the Pine River, part of the Pine-Popple Wild Rivers property, is included in the planning process for Wisconsin’s Northeast Sands Ecological Landscape. (Wisconsin DNR photos)

The properties in the Northeast Sands also provide important recreational opportunities. Wildlife and Fishery Areas and State Natural Areas, such as Amberg Wildlife Area, South Branch Oconto River Fishery Area, and Dunbar Barrens State Natural Area offer hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The Pine-Popple and Pike Wild Rivers provide high-quality paddling and scenic enjoyment. These properties are among those that will have new plans developed.

People can learn more about and engage in the planning process for the Northeast Sands regional master plan online by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords “property planning” and then selecting the Northeast Sands.

In addition to information about this ecological landscape and the department properties within it, people will also find opportunities to offer their input on the planning and management of the properties. A public meeting and open office hours will be held for the public to learn more about the planning process and to submit comments on the properties’ future management and use:

— Tuesday, June 26, Florence, public meeting: 5 to 7 p.m., Florence County Wild Rivers Interpretive and Resource Center, 5628 Forestry Drive.

— Wednesday, June 27, Wausaukee, open office hours: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., DNR Wausaukee Ranger Station, 1025 Highway C.

“We welcome and encourage people to visit our website and attend the public meeting and office hours to learn about the department’s property master planning process and share their suggestions for future management and use of these properties,” said Diane Brusoe, property planning section chief.

In addition to opportunities to offer input online, at the public meeting, or during the office hours, people may also contact Yoyi Steele, DNR planner, by email at yoyi.steele@wisconsin.gov, by phone at 608-266-3568, or by regular mail at Wisconsin DNR, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

The public comment period will be open through July 11.

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