Skip to content

Sharing Grant Documents

At this time the Bayfield Regional Conservancy is sharing four documents with the public. One is the Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project description for the DNR grant; one is for the NOAA CELCP grant; one is the DRAFT land management plan that went with the DNR grant and the fourth is an updated one page summary about the project. In the near future watch for a two-page summary with a bit more detail about the project and a lengthier Q&A document that will also be shared should people want more information. The four documents published here are quite long and should be read carefully and in their entirety.
Document 1:  Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project
Project Description
July 2016
Project Details
The Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project includes approximately 100 acres and is located in the Town of Bell, Bayfield County (Exhibit A), at Township 51N, Range 6W, Sections 34 and 35. The Property is owned by two landowners: Surowiec (approximately 95 acres) and Dorau (approximately 5 acres).
The Property will be accessed by both roadway and the Siskiwit River itself. The Property is bordered by State Highway 13, Siskiwit Falls Road, and County Highway C. At minimum, access will be provided via a parking area off of Siskiwit Falls Road and via water from State Highway 13.
Surrounding Landscape
This Property is adjacent to forested, rural residential development to the east and south and small-town residential development to the west where it borders the Village of Cornucopia. The Dorau property is adjacent to State Highway 13 where the Siskiwit River crosses the highway and enters into a marina and then Lake Superior at a Harbor of Refuge designated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Along Lake Superior’s shoreline, the Town of Bell has protected the coastal estuary of Cornucopia Beach in prior partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Bayfield Regional Conservancy. Additionally, the Town of Bell owns over 400 acres in the Siskiwit River Watershed and manages them to help reduce flashy flows in the river and minimize sedimentation of the estuary (Exhibit B). The protection of these 100 acres through acquisition would complement these previous protection efforts, and assure additional protection of the estuary and its river.
The greatest threat to this Property is the potential for development as the property is large and located close to Lake Superior and along the Siskiwit River. The steep slopes and coastal estuary are not currently protected by zoning requirements for sufficient setbacks, and the proximity to Lake Superior and the river is very valuable to land speculators. Over the past few decades, tourism has accounted for an increasing share of the Bayfield Peninsula’s economy resulting in increased land fragmentation and development, especially along the Lake Superior shoreline and its rivers. With subdivision and residential development on the rise in Bayfield County, the Bayfield Regional Conservancy has prioritized several areas of high conservation value for land protection. The Siskiwit River watershed is one such area.

Landscape Description
Located at the top of the Bayfield Peninsula in the Superior Coastal Plain Ecological Landscape of Wisconsin, the Siskiwit River flows into Lake Superior in the Village of Cornucopia
located in the Town of Bell. The Siskiwit River Watershed covers 27 square miles and the land use is primarily forested with a small amount of agriculture. Much of the watershed is privately owned, making private landowner choices very important for the long-term health of the watershed. The upper 5 miles of the river are classified by the State of Wisconsin as an Exceptional Resource Water and as a Class I trout stream, and the lower one mile segment is classified as a Class II trout stream because of the lack of spawning beds on the sandstone outcrop. The Siskiwit River coastal estuary and its surrounding forests are an outstanding natural resource and provide important habitat for fish and wildlife. These include lake-run rainbow and brown trout, chinook and coho salmon, spawning northern pike and suckers, and migratory and breeding birds. The lower watershed is located in a Tier I and Tier II Migratory Bird Stopover area, providing habitat to waterfowl, land birds, and raptors. Additionally, the coastal wetlands in this South Shore of Lake Superior area have been identified as an Important Bird Area by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative. The lower watershed, in particular, has long been recognized both locally and throughout the region for the river and its waterfalls that flow over Orienta Brownstone shelves as an “ambassador landscape” that builds public appreciation of Lake Superior estuaries. The Siskiwit River estuary is part of an extensive coastal wetland complex that spans much of Siskiwit Bay eventually connecting with Lost Creek Bog State Natural Area, a high quality coastal wetland located south and west of the Siskiwit River mouth. The Surowiec family owns approximately 95 acres. The property is diverse, with mixed hardwood and conifer species, a 3,000 linear foot riparian corridor along the Siskiwit River, a 1,200 linear foot stretch of waterfalls, a coastal estuary wetland area, several small ravines, old apple orchards, and an old farm field. The Siskiwit River, a series of waterfalls, and a kettle hole formation are located in the SW parcel. This parcel also includes a remnant boreal forest and a wet meadow. The northeast 30 acres is a coastal estuary wetland with several small drainages that flow across the parcel to the river. There is also a forested corridor in the lower half that consists of mixed species including aspen, balsam fir, maple, and oak. The southeast 20 acres is partially forested, and the remaining acreage is pastureland that is still actively mowed for hay by a local farmer. The Dorau family owns approximately 5 acres that they seek to protect through acquisition. The property is located in the coastal estuary of the Siskiwit River and is near the mouth of the river where it flows into Lake Superior. It includes approximately 1,000 feet of Siskiwit River frontage along the river’s south side. The vegetation is dominated by tag alder, with other coastal estuary plants intermixed. The riparian corridor is intact and provides important habitat to rearing and adult fish, migratory and resident birds, as well as waterfowl.
The acquisition of these 100 acres will help protect the following conservation values:
 Class I/II Trout Stream and Exceptional Resource Water: The Siskiwit River transects the Property for approximately ¾ of a mile – 4,000 linear feet. The river supports spawning rainbow and brown trout as well as northern pike, bullheads, suckers, shiners, and Chinook and coho salmon. Siskiwit Bay is a spawning area for lake whitefish. The Lake Superior Binational Program identified Siskiwit Bay and the river as important to the integrity of the Lake Superior ecosystem for fish and wildlife spawning and nursery grounds.
 Wetland and Riparian Habitats: Both wetland and riparian habitats can be found on the Property. Numerous species rely on these habitats, including fish, mammals, and breeding and migratory birds.
 Boreal Forest Habitat: This forest type, located near the Siskiwit River, consists of northern white cedar, white spruce, white pine, balsam fir, and Canada yew, among other species. This forest type supports a diversity of plants and wildlife species and provides important slow-the-flow and water quality functions. The Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan recommends the protection and management of these clay plain boreal forests for their importance in maintaining the water quality of the streams that feed Lake Superior.
 Biodiversity: The property is a biologically rich environment that provides habitat for a variety of plants and animals. There are both Northern Mesic and Boreal forest types and tree species include cedar, hemlock, pines, yellow birch, oak, maple, aspen and balsam fir among others. Boreal forests have been identified as High Priority by the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan. An inventory of plants has been conducted and includes representatives from both Northern Mesic and Boreal forest types. Additionally, the endangered auricled twayblade (Listera auriculata) is known to occur in the area according to Wisconsin’s Lake Superior coastal wetlands evaluation published by E.J. Epstein, et. al in 1997.
 Migratory Stopover Area: The property is located within a Tier I and Tier II Migratory Bird Stopover area, and is located near the National Audubon Society designated Important Bird Areas of the Apostle Islands Bay. The coastal wetlands and riparian forests support a diverse number of breeding and migratory landbirds, waterbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl. The forested river corridors are particularly important for breeding Neotropical migrants. Many resident as well as migratory birds use this area due to its proximity to Lake Superior, coastal wetlands, the Siskiwit River, and forests.
 Valuable Wetland Services: Highly erodible sand and red clay soils are characteristic of much of the southern Lake Superior basin, and are responsible for the greatest impact to water quality within the Lake Superior Watershed. The property’s wetlands receive, absorb, and control the outflow of water runoff from upstream and upslope. The wetlands also serve to slow the velocity and decrease the volume of runoff.

Current Land Use
Currently, the entire Property has been privately owned by many years, and the majority of the land has not been actively managed. On the Surowiec property, approximately 15 acres are still being actively mowed for hay by a local farmer through a verbal agreement. Portions of the property were farmed until the early 1970s. The Dorau property is zoned Residential, Recreational-Business (RR-B) and Residential 1 (R-1) by Bayfield County. Future development of these 5 acres is not very likely due to the wetland conditions. The Surowiec property is zoned Residential 1 (R-1) by Bayfield County. Shoreland zoning restrictions also apply to the property. Local planning and zoning allow for current and future forested and agriculture use as well as development. This property is highly developable due to its features and its proximity to Lake Superior and the Siskiwit River.
Currently, a few invasive plant species are present on the Surowiec property. Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is growing near the edges along the road in several locations. Non-native orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) is present in a few open places in the forest. Additionally, common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and non-native honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) are present in the old apple orchard on the Surowiec property and at the edges of the fields. The Surowiec family has been working with an experienced contractor to locate and remove/control these species over the past year.
Partnerships
We are working with the following partners:
 Surowiec Family – approached us in the spring of 2015, interested in protecting the natural resources of their property while also allowing public access. The property has been in their family’s name (Swenson) since the early 1940s. They have signed a letter of intent in support of the acquisition. They plan to make a donation to assist with the long-term management of the land.
 Dorau Family – approached us recently as they learned about the potential protection of the Surowiec property and they own contiguous property. They have signed an Option to Purchase agreement in support of the acquisition. They are also contributing toward the cost of the appraisal.
 Town of Bell – the Bayfield Regional Conservancy has asked the Town of Bell to ultimately hold title to the property, and manage it with help from its Parks and Lands Committee. The Town of Bell has discussed the project at many meetings and also at its annual meeting in April 2016. The Town of Bell contributed toward the cost of the appraisal.
 NOAA Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program – in partnership with the Town of Bell, we will seek funding from this organization for the remaining cost of the property. The grant application is due in the fall of 2016.
 Bayfield Regional Conservancy – we are playing an active role in working with the Town of Bell to seek funding for the acquisition, inventory the natural resources, and determine best uses to protect the natural resource values. A future conservation easement will be placed on the property as desired by the landowners which will protect the property’s natural resource values into perpetuity. As the holder of the conservation easement, the Conservancy will play a key role in monitoring the property’s conservation values. A Conservancy representative will visit the Property at least annually to ensure compliancewith the terms of the conservation easement. As a local conservation organization, the Conservancy will also be able to help the Town of Bell identify challenges and implement solutions by assisting the Town with grant writing and providing technical assistance.
 Other conservation organization partners and community members – the Town of Bell and the Bayfield Regional Conservancy may seek assistance from other conservation partners and/or community members to implement activities in the management plan such as USFWS, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Trout Unlimited, and Northland College. The Conservancy can also use this project as an example for other landowners living in the Siskiwit River watershed. Letters of support from the Town of Bell, Bayfield County, Trout Unlimited, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and US Fish and Wildlife Service have been submitted for this project.
Supporting Plans
 Recognized by local media – The lower watershed, in particular, has long been recognized both locally and throughout the region for the river and its waterfalls that flow over Orienta Brownstone shelves as an “ambassador landscape.” While privately owned, these properties have been featured in Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, in Lake Superior Magazine, and on websites about waterfalls in the Great Lakes Area.
 Bayfield Regional Conservancy’s Strategic Conservation Plan for the Bayfield Peninsula (2009) – the Conservancy is dedicated to the permanent protection of special places in the Bayfield Region. The goals of the strategic conservation plan include: (1) The acquisition of land for natural areas, parks and trails; (2) Partnerships with local governments to further conservation initiatives; (3) Providing community education promoting sustainable practices and conservation; and (4) Preserving the natural heritage and beauty of Northern Wisconsin. The acquisition of the Subject Property is in accord with the stated goals of the Conservancy: the project engenders partnerships with local and regional government entities; the property will provide new recreation opportunities to the public; the project will connect the Conservancy and local government agencies in an effort to provide environmental education opportunities; and a unique natural landscape will be preserved in perpetuity.
 Town of Bell Comprehensive Plan (2010) – this plan documents that the “natural beauty of the Town of Bell’s roadways and scenic views will be preserved and important natural resources and natural characteristics such as woodlands, wildlife habitat, streams, wetlands and inland lakes will be adequately protected while promoting the restoration and preservation of the Lake Superior shoreline, including Lost Creek Bog and the Siskiwit River systems.” A goal is to “Discourage land use practices that have a detrimental effect on the land, soil, water and air quality of the Town” through the following policies: (1) “Investigate the potential for purchasing development rights and conservation easements for natural resource protection and preservation of agricultural land; and (2) Identify funding sources for preserving natural resources.” Another goal is to “Preserve and protect the Town’s cultural resources such as Native American sites, early settlements and other places of historical significance through supporting organizations that are working to preserve unique, cultural, natural, aesthetic and historic characteristics of the Town.” And an additional goal is to “Restore and protect the shorelines of Lake Superior, Lost Creek Bog, and tributaries of Lake Superior including Lost Creek and the Siskiwit River supporting efforts to protect and improve wetlands and surface waters.”
 Bayfield County Comprehensive Plan – Protection and Protection and management of the Subject Property supports the township and county natural resource protection efforts and is consistent with the Bayfield County’s comprehensive plan goal to “Conserve, protect, manage, and enhance the County’s natural resources, including but not limited to, lakes, rivers/streams, wetlands, groundwater, forestlands, and other wildlife habitats in order to provide the highest quality of life for citizens and visitors”.
 Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan – the project will address the recommendations of the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan by ensuring the protection and scientific management of the property’s boreal forest area so as to safeguard the health of this rare habitat, and protect the soil stabilization and removing the threat of extreme impervious surface construction.
 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan – the project supports the DNR’s wetland management policies which include:
“Implement “Reversing the Loss: A strategy for protecting and restoring wetlands in Wisconsin.” Protect wetlands with high value through acquisition, incentives and other innovative strategies together with federal, state and local government and conservation organization partners.”
 Scenic easement – in 1968, the Swenson family signed a scenic easement with the State of Wisconsin recognizing the scenic views of the Siskiwit Bay and Lake Superior from their property.
 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan – The GLRI action plan addresses the critical issue of protecting wetlands and other habitats and suggests the action: “Enhance Wetlands, Wetland-Associated Uplands, and High Priority Coastal, Upland and Island Habitats – Protect, restore, or enhance habitats by acquiring properties that are important to sustain fish and wildlife populations, restoring natural hydrological regimes, improving water quality, and restoring the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of ecosystems in each Great Lakes Basin.” The health of Great Lakes habitats and wildlife depends upon the protection of ecosystems – wetlands, rivers, and watersheds. The proposed preservation eliminates the threat of habitat destruction or degradation.

Document 2:  SISKIWIT RIVER ESTUARY PROTECTION PROJECT
Project Description
Project Description/Scope of Work
Project Size and Relationship to the Coast/Estuary and/or NERR
The Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project consists of approximately 100 acres. The Property is located in the Town of Bell, Bayfield County at Township 51N, Range 6W, Sections 34 and 35. The Property is currently privately owned by two landowners: Surowiec (approximately 95 acres) and Dorau (approximately 5 acres).
The Property is located along the Siskiwit River near its mouth on the south shore of Lake Superior. The Siskiwit River at this site has long been recognized both locally and throughout the region for the river and its waterfalls as an “ambassador landscape” that builds public appreciation of Lake Superior estuaries. The Project Area includes:
 4,000 linear feet of Siskiwit River frontage which includes 3,000 linear feet of forested riparian corridor on the Surowiec property and 1,000 feet of palustrine shrub/scrub riparian corridor on the Dorau property;
 1,200 linear feet of waterfalls flowing over Orienta Brownstone shelves, which have been featured in Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, in Lake Superior Magazine, and on websites about waterfalls in the Great Lakes Area;
 Exposed bedrock, sandstone cliffs, wetlands; and
 Rare Wisconsin boreal forest area.
Legal Rights to Be Acquired
The Property will be held in fee simple ownership by the Town of Bell. A permanent conservation easement, held by the Bayfield Regional Conservancy, will be placed on the Property at the time of the acquisition.
CELCP Goals
Permanent protection of this site will provide future generations the opportunity to enjoy the ecological, conservation, recreational, historical, and aesthetic resources of this site. Few properties of this size and quality remain near Lake Superior’s shore. Benefits of the Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project include:
 Preserve quality stopover habitat for migratory birds;
 Protect the coastal freshwater estuary wetlands to provide wildlife habitat and water quality benefits to the Siskiwit River and Lake Superior;
 Maintain water quality of the Siskiwit River, its estuary, and associated wetlands by preserving shoreline habitat and ameliorating streambank erosion;
 Protect and increase the amount of un-fragmented forestland in the Siskiwit Watershed; and
 Provide a public recreation area for nature-based outdoor activities.
Waterfalls over browntone Boreal forest riparian corridor Scrub/shrub wetland’
Ecological Values best describe the project’s primary purpose for protection under the CELCP.
Ecological
Located at the top of the Bayfield Peninsula in the Superior Coastal Plain Ecological Landscape of Wisconsin, the Siskiwit River flows into Lake Superior in the Village of Cornucopia located in the Town of Bell. The Siskiwit River Watershed covers 27 square miles and the land use is primarily forested with a small amount of agriculture. The upper 5 miles of the river are classified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource s (WDNR) as an Exceptional Resource Water and as a Class I trout stream, and the lower one mile segment is classified as a Class II trout stream because of the lack of spawning beds on the sandstone outcrop. The Siskiwit River freshwater coastal estuary and its surrounding forests are an outstanding natural resource and provide important habitat for fish and wildlife, including many species of fish and waterfowl, migratory birds, and raptors. The lower watershed, in particular, has long been recognized both locally and throughout the region for the river and its waterfalls that flow over Orienta Brownstone shelves as an “ambassador landscape” that builds public appreciation of Lake Superior estuaries. The Siskiwit River estuary is part of an extensive freshwater coastal wetland complex that spans much of Siskiwit Bay, including Lost Creek Bog State Natural Area, a high quality freshwater coastal wetland located south and west of the Siskiwit River mouth (and a previous CELCP project site), and Bark Bay Slough State Natural Area.
The Property is diverse, with mixed hardwood and conifer forest, a 4,000 linear foot forested riparian corridor along the Siskiwit River, a 1,200 linear foot stretch of waterfalls, a shrub/scrub wetland area, several small ravines, old apple orchards, and an old pasture/hay field. The Property also includes a wet meadow and a remnant boreal forest which, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Action Plan (2005-2015), is identified as a “Major” opportunity area for protection. The northeast 30 acres is a scrub/shrub wetland with several small drainages that flow across the property to the river. There is also a forested corridor in the lower half that consists of mixed species including aspen, balsam fir, maple, and oak. The southeast 20 acres is partially forested, and the remaining acreage is pastureland that is still actively mowed for hay by a local farmer.
The acquisition of these 100 acres will help protect the following conservation values:
 Class I/II Trout Stream and Exceptional Resource Water: The Siskiwit River transects the Property for approximately ¾ of a mile – 4,000 linear feet. The riparian corridor is intact and provides important habitat to rearing and adult fish, migratory and resident birds, as well as waterfowl. The river supports spawning rainbow and brown trout as well as northern pike, bullheads, suckers, shiners, and Chinook and coho salmon. Siskiwit Bay is a spawning area for lake whitefish. The Lake Superior Binational Program identified Siskiwit Bay and the river as important to the integrity of the Lake Superior ecosystem for fish and wildlife spawning and nursery grounds.
 Wetland and Riparian Habitats: Both wetland and riparian habitats can be found on the Property. Approximately 30 acres of scrub/shrub and forested wetlands are identified in the Wisconsin Wetland Inventory. Numerous species rely on these habitats, including fish, mammals, and breeding and migratory birds.
 Boreal Forest Habitat: This forest type, located near the Siskiwit River, consists of northern white cedar, white spruce, white pine, balsam fir, and Canada yew, among other species. This forest type supports a diversity of plants and wildlife species and provides important slow-the-flow and water quality functions. The Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan recommends the protection and management of these clay plain boreal forests for their importance in maintaining the water quality of the streams that feed Lake Superior.
 Biodiversity: The Property is a biologically rich environment that provides habitat for a variety of plants and animals. There are both Boreal and Northern Mesic forest types on the Property and tree species include cedar, hemlock, pines, yellow birch, oak, maple, aspen and balsam fir among others. Boreal forests have been identified as High Priority by the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan. An inventory of plants has been conducted and includes representatives from both Northern Mesic and Boreal forest types. Additionally, the endangered auricled twayblade (Listera auriculata) is known to occur in the area according to Wisconsin’s Lake Superior coastal wetlands evaluation published by E.J. Epstein, et. al in 1997. Due to the size of the Property, it may be able to help support listed threatened or endangered species and/or enhance existing protected areas nearby. In addition to important forest communities, the area also includes such “recognized natural communities” in Wisconsin’s Natural Heritage Inventory as clay seepage bluff, moist cliff, alder thicket, and emergent marsh communities.
 Migratory Stopover Area: The Property is located within a Tier I and Tier II Migratory Bird Stopover area, and is located in the vicinity of the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative designated South Shore Wetlands Important Bird Area. The coastal wetlands and riparian forests support a diverse number of breeding and migratory landbirds, waterbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl. The forested river corridors are particularly important for breeding Neotropical migrants. Many resident as well as migratory birds use this area due to its proximity to Lake Superior, coastal wetlands, the Siskiwit River, and forests.
 Valuable Wetland Services: Highly erodible sand and red clay soils are characteristic of much of the southern Lake Superior basin, and are responsible for the greatest impact to water quality within the Lake Superior Watershed. The Property’s wetlands receive, absorb, and control the outflow of water runoff from upstream and upslope. The wetlands also serve to slow the velocity and decrease the volume of runoff. Additionally, the upland terrain is pitted and the small, shallow depressions hold additional water.
Conservation
As mentioned above, this Property is located near a network of conservation and public access properties, including Lost Creek Bog State Natural Area, Bark Bay Slough State Natural Area, and Cornucopia Beach. Covering a sensitive sandy, rocky and clay mix substrate in the Superior Coastal Plain Ecological Landscape Area, the lower Siskiwit Watershed is especially vulnerable to erosion without proper protection and management of its lands. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, water quality and wetland function are known to be adversely affected by open lands (e.g., developed land, agriculture, and young forest) and positively affected by older forests and conifers.
Protecting these 100 acres through acquisition will contribute important benefits to the freshwater coastal and estuarine environment as described above, and will have far-reaching effects on the health of the Siskiwit Bay and Lake Superior. Additionally, this project will set a positive example for other local and regional residents, as to what they can do to manage their properties to improve watershed health.
With direct access to Cornucopia’s commercial district and near the popular beach and harbor, this property offers a valuable combination of recreational, scenic, and ecological benefits. It is uncommon to find such diverse natural communities so near a popular recreational area at the western gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Minimal restoration is needed and/or planned for the site. The hay field will be restored within 10 years with native tree species, which will help provide a more natural and effective buffer for drainages to the Siskiwit River and its estuary. Invasive plant removal and control activities will be on-going. Grant funding and local contributions will be sought for this work, and volunteers will help as well. Best Management Practices for the State of Wisconsin will be followed, and there is a high potential for successfully restoring ecological values that are currently only minimally impaired.
Recreational
Currently, in the surrounding area, while there are opportunities to recreate on the waters of Lake Superior and nearby rivers, there are minimal trail hiking opportunities. The closest property that provides for this use is Lost Creek Falls owned by Bayfield County, and it is seeing more frequent use since it was established. Acquiring these 100 acres in public ownership will provide an amazing opportunity for the public to access a natural area through silent sport activities either directly from the Village of Cornucopia via foot trails or from the Siskiwit River itself either at the marina or from
Dorau property Field to be restored Boundary at Highway 13
with lake in distance at Siskiwit Bay where the public Cornucopia Beach is located. The Property will also provide opportunities for fishing, trapping, and hunting as well as nature appreciation, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and photography.
The protection and public enjoyment of this Property will address nature-based recreation needs identified in Wisconsin’s CELCP plan (2011). As mentioned on Page 13, “Some of Wisconsin’s most popular public properties are located on Lakes Michigan and Superior… Despite these properties and other smaller public properties, there is a large and increasing demand for public properties that provide opportunities to engage in a variety of low-impact recreation activities (such as hiking, biking, camping, wildlife watching, and outdoor education) with access or views of the Great Lakes. Maintaining quality recreation areas and developing new lakeshore and coastal sites is hampered by increasing development and fragmentation of land ownership.”
The site’s access is also recognized by local and regional plans. The Town of Bell Comprehensive Plan (2010) supports “non-automobile transportation options throughout the Town that provide recreation opportunities” and to “consider carefully opportunities to acquire or trade land that provides recreational or conservation uses.” Bayfield County’s Comprehensive Plan states that “Bayfield County will strongly encourage the development of bicycle and pedestrian trails throughout the County as a means of enhancing healthy communities, providing transportation alternatives, and addressing recreational needs” and “Natural resources will be protected and serve as an environmental, recreational, and economic asset to the County. Development will be compatible with the natural environment to ensure these resources are protected for future generations.” (2011, page 17). The plan also mentions that “Wetlands also provide valuable habitat for fish and wildlife while providing recreational opportunities for hunting and birding” (2011, page 52).
The Property will be easily accessible to people by both roadway and the Siskiwit River itself. The Property is bordered by State Highway 13, Siskiwit Falls Road, and County Highway C . At minimum, access will be provided via a small parking area off of Siskiwit Falls Road and via water from State Highway 13. While there will not be any limits on accessibility for recreation, the trails and habitats near the
Siskiwit River will be closely monitored. Due to the steep slopes along the river, partners are aware that the steep slopes and sensitive soils could experience erosion if public use and trails are not properly managed. It will be challenging to prevent access to the
ecologically fragile slopes in areas of the river corridor. Intelligent placement of signage and trail placement as well as education of visitors should alleviate this problem considerably. The already existing narrow trails along the river will be evaluated and improved to further protect the natural resources and to increase public safety. In the shrub/scrub wetland in the NE corner of the Property, use may be more seasonal when drier conditions or freezing conditions are present and boardwalk material may need to be installed to protect vegetation and soils depending on seasonal use.
Historical
The proposed Project Area has long been recognized both locally and throughout the region for the river and its waterfalls as an “ambassador landscape” that builds public appreciation of Lake Superior estuaries. Its waterfalls have been featured in several publications regional and state publications, although the surrounding lands have always been in private ownership.
Throughout the years, the Ojibwe used the Siskiwit Bay area as a temporary camp and a stopover on the way to La Pointe. “Siskiwit” comes from an Ojibwe word for a subspecies of Lake trout known in English as “fat trout.” Commercial fishing for lake trout, whitefish, and freshwater herring has traditionally operated out of Cornucopia’s harbor. The Jones, Ehlers, Johnson, and Evanow families kept the fishing industry going during the twentieth century.
The Surowiec property was farmed and grazed from the mid-1940s until the early 1970s. After that, they turned existing buildings into tourist cottages on the Siskiwit River. Today, only one of those structures still exists. They had a walking/hiking path along the river for their guests and the general public to enjoy the river, the falls, and fish in the “Kettle Hole.”
There are remnants of past logging and farming activities on the land that allow for interpretation of the nineteenth and twentieth century history of the Lake Superior coast from the logging era (a former railroad grade), the subsequent farming of the cut-over (apple orchard and hayfield), conversion to early recreational use (a former tourist cottage), and finally restoration of coastal habitat. None of these historical features are of major historical significance, but rather reflect the historical evolution of public attitudes toward coastal lands.
Aesthetic
The acquisition of this Property for public enjoyment will help preserve and provide scenic views, both of the surrounding forests on the Property and of Siskiwit Bay and Lake Superior. Because this Property is surrounded by public roads on all sides, the protected forests will be able to be viewed by local residents and tourists alike as they travel the roads. From a bridge on Siskiwit Falls Road, visitors will be able to enjoy views of the protected waterfalls. As mentioned above, these falls have been featured in Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, in Lake Superior Magazine, and on websites about waterfalls in the Great Lakes Area. Near the corner of Siskiwit Falls Road and Highway 13, visitors can enjoy scenic views of Siskiwit Bay and Lake Superior. Additionally, at the Siskiwit River bridge on Highway 13, the scenic view of Siskiwit River and its tag-alder wetland will be protected through this project.
As mentioned on Page 13 of Wisconsin’s CELCP plan, “Some of the state’s most impressive and scenic views occur along the shores of Lakes Michigan and Superior. Properties with views out over the lakes are in great demand. Although not the focus or priority of the Wisconsin CELC Plan, protection of areas for ecological purposes that also maintain these scenic views would provide a complementary benefit.” Additionally, Highway 13 is designated as a state scenic byway located along the Wisconsin Lake Superior Byway. The Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project will protect land/sites adjacent to this byway.
For many years, local and regional residents have appreciated the large block of undeveloped forested land right outside the Village of Cornucopia. Residents have frequented the Siskiwit River and its waterfalls. Additionally, in 1968, the Swenson (now Surowiec) family signed a scenic easement with the State of Wisconsin recognizing the scenic views of the Siskiwit Bay and Lake Superior from their property. Protecting these 100 acres in their entirety will help maintain the aesthetic, rural character of the surrounding area.
Relevance to CELCP Plan
The Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project meets the national goals for the CELCP. In particular, the site’s ecological values are an example of the top priority in the national program of “lands which can be effectively managed and protected and that have significant ecological value.” This project site contributes to the priority conservation needs identified in Wisconsin’s CELCP Plan (2011) including:
o Protection of ecologically diverse or high quality coastal and estuarine habitats. The project site contains boreal forest; emergent marsh, alder thicket, clay seepage bluff, and moist cliff natural communities (page 16), and the drowned river mouth Land Legacy Area (page 22).
o Protection of critical fish spawning habitat. Lake Superior freshwater estuaries, like Siskiwit River, provide breeding and shelter habitat for many species of Lake Superior fish and wildlife. The Plan also states that Land conservation projects that seek to minimize these impacts will likely result in significant benefits to the fisheries (page 11).
o Protection of critical bird habitat. The coastlines along Lakes Michigan and Superior provide valuable bird habitats, both migratory stopover/resting areas and habitats for breeding species. The near shoreline area
plays a crucial role for millions of migrating birds…during their migratory seasons. Riparian corridors and shorelines of inland lakes that lie in close proximity to Lakes Michigan and Superior also serve as areas of high migrant concentration (page 11).
Relevance to NERR Management Plan
While this project provides water quality benefits to Lake Superior, it is not connected to the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is located in the Northwestern corner of Wisconsin along the St. Louis River, bordering Minnesota and Lake Superior.
Relevance to Other State/Local Plans
The Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project also supports state, regional, and local watershed management and/or planning efforts.
 The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program October 2007 Strategic Vision for the Great Lakes Plan outlines the goals that support the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. The Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project supports the goals outlined in the Wisconsin plan as follows:
o The overarching goal is to preserve, protect, develop where possible, to restore or enhance, the resources of Wisconsin’s coastal area for this and succeeding generations…, giving due consideration to linkages and impacts to resources of inland areas.
o With the Town of Bell as project sponsor, this project supports the coastal management objective to strengthen local government capabilities to initiate and continue effective coastal management.
o The Town’s public involvement process supports the coastal management objective to increase public awareness and opportunity for citizens to participate in decisions affecting Great Lakes resources.
 The Lakewide Area Management Plan for Lake Superior (2008) lists an objective “to protect, maintain, and restore high-quality habitat sites in the Lake Superior basin and the ecosystem processes that sustain them. Land and water uses should be designed and located compatible with the protective and productive ecosystem functions provided by these natural landscape features.”
 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan – The GLRI action plan addresses the critical issue of protecting wetlands and other habitats and suggests the action: “Enhance Wetlands, Wetland-Associated Uplands, and High Priority Coastal, Upland and Island Habitats – Protect, restore, or enhance habitats by acquiring properties that are important to sustain fish and wildlife populations, restoring natural hydrological regimes, improving water quality, and restoring the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of ecosystems in each Great Lakes Basin.” The health of Great Lakes habitats and wildlife depends upon the protection of ecosystems – wetlands, rivers, and watersheds. The proposed project would eliminate the threat of habitat destruction or degradation for these 100 acres.
 Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan (2005-2015) – the project will address the recommendations of the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan by ensuring the protection and scientific management of the Property’s boreal forest area so as to safeguard the health of this rare habitat, and protect the soil stabilization and removing the threat of extreme impervious surface construction.
 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan – the project supports the DNR’s wetland management policies which include: “Implement “Reversing the Loss: A strategy for protecting and restoring wetlands in Wisconsin.” Protect wetlands with high value through acquisition, incentives and other innovative strategies together with federal, state and local government and conservation organization partners.”
 Bayfield County Comprehensive Plan (2011) – Protection and Protection and management of the Property supports the township and county natural resource protection efforts and is consistent with the Bayfield County’s comprehensive plan goal to “Conserve, protect, manage, and enhance the County’s natural resources, including but not limited to, lakes, rivers/streams, wetlands, groundwater, forestlands, and other wildlife habitats in order to provide the highest quality of life for citizens and visitors.”
 Town of Bell Comprehensive Plan (2010) – this plan documents that the “natural beauty of the Town of Bell’s roadways and scenic views will be preserved and important natural resources and natural characteristics such as woodlands, wildlife habitat, streams, wetlands and inland lakes will be adequately protected while promoting the restoration and preservation of the Lake Superior shoreline, including Lost Creek Bog and the Siskiwit River systems.” A goal is to “Discourage land use practices that have a detrimental effect on the land, soil, water and air quality of the Town” through the following policies: (1) “Investigate the potential for purchasing development rights and conservation easements for natural resource protection and preservation of agricultural land; and (2) Identify funding sources for preserving natural resources.” Another goal is to “Preserve and protect the Town’s cultural resources such as Native American sites, early settlements and other places of historical significance through supporting organizations that are working to preserve unique, cultural, natural, aesthetic and historic characteristics of the Town.” And an additional goal is to “Restore and protect the shorelines of Lake Superior, Lost Creek Bog, and tributaries of Lake Superior including Lost Creek and the Siskiwit River supporting efforts to protect and improve wetlands and surface waters.”
 Bayfield Regional Conservancy’s Strategic Conservation Plan for the Bayfield Peninsula (2009) – the Conservancy is dedicated to the permanent protection of special places in the Bayfield Region. The goals of the strategic conservation plan include: (1) The acquisition of land for natural areas, parks and trails; (2) Partnerships with local governments to further conservation initiatives; (3) Providing community education promoting sustainable practices and conservation; and (4) Preserving the natural heritage and beauty of Northern Wisconsin. The acquisition of the Property is in accord with the stated goals of the Conservancy: the project engenders partnerships with local and regional government entities; the Property will provide new recreation opportunities to the public; the project will connect the Conservancy and local government agencies in an effort to provide environmental education opportunities; and a unique natural landscape will be preserved in perpetuity.
 While this project provides water quality benefits to Lake Superior, it is not connected to the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is located in the Northwestern corner of Wisconsin along the St. Louis River, bordering Minnesota and Lake Superior. This is a NOAA Habitat Focus Area.
Manageability of the Project Site
The Property has been privately owned for many years, and the majority of the land has not been actively managed since the 1970s. The Surowiec property was farmed and grazed from the early 1900s until the early 1970s. No management, except for haying the approximate 13-acre field, has taken place since. In the early 1900s, much of the property was likely cleared during the cut-over. However, the forests have regenerated successfully, including more rare boreal forest species. There is one small house on the Surowiec property, and it is not inhabited. The appraisal conducted by Steigerwaldt Land Services reports that the “cottage does not have much contributory value as it has a significant amount of deferred maintenance and would take time and expense to repair to a fully useable condition.” If grantors allow the building to stay, the Town of Bell may use the building to store stewardship supplies and/or for seasonal parks committee staff in their work to manage the Property and other Town of Bell publicly accessible properties.
The Property is adjacent to forested, rural residential development to the east and south and small-town residential development to the west where it borders the Village of Cornucopia. The Dorau property is zoned Residential, Recreational-Business (RR-B) and Residential 1 (R-1) by Bayfield County. Future development of these 5 acres is not very likely due to the wetland conditions. The Surowiec property is zoned Residential 1 (R-1) by Bayfield County. While adjacent properties are zoned residential, no changes in use are anticipated to adjacent parcels.
Currently, a few invasive plant species are present on the Surowiec property. Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is growing near the edges along the road in several locations, and is common throughout the area. Non-native orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) is present in a few open places in the forest. Additionally, some common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and non-native honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) are present in the old apple orchard on the Surowiec property and at the edges of the fields. Fortunately, these species are only minimally affecting the native habitats in limited locations, and the Surowiec family has been working with an experienced contractor to locate and remove/control these commonly-occurring species over the past year.
As mentioned above, minimal restoration is planned for the site, including planting trees in the open field and continuing to address invasive plants. While funding has not been secured, donations are being given for future stewardship of the Property. No environmental remediation is needed.
Long-term Use of the Site
The Town of Bell intends to keep preservation of this lower watershed ecosystem and protection of the Siskiwit River primary goals in managing the Property for public use. The Property will be managed in a manner that will further protect the fragile soils, forest habitats, and wildlife species while also allowing non-motorized public use. Visitors to the Property will be able to enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, trapping, and hunting, as per the Wisconsin Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Other opportunities include nature appreciation, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and photography.
Trails – Two longer trail systems are being proposed on the Surowiec property; one on the west side through the forest and into the Village of Cornucopia; and one on the east side through the wetland. The east trail system may experience more use when drier conditions or freezing conditions are present and boardwalk material may need to be installed to protect vegetation and soils. The narrow trails along the river will be evaluated and improved to further protect the natural resources and to increase public safety. No trails are feasible on the Dorau property due to the wetland conditions. Visitors can instead use the river as a “water” trail.
Parking Areas – Two small parking areas will likely be developed on the Surowiec property. On the east side, there is a large area that will be used; it previously contained small cottages. A driveway already exists. On the west side, a small parking area could be enhanced near the existing cottage. No parking areas are feasible on the Dorau property due to the wetland conditions.
Signage & Interpretive Displays – The trails will be marked so visitors can successfully navigate the trails, especially in the winter months. It will be important for visitors to stay on the trails near the river to minimize soil compaction and erosion. The Town of Bell will work with the Bayfield Regional Conservancy to create an informational sign kiosk to be placed at the main entrance to the Surowiec property and it will include a map, information about allowable uses and forest habitats and wildlife, and historical information about the Property and project. Additional interpretive signage may be installed at other entrances and/or along the trails as needed in the future.
Boundary markers – We will evaluate whether or not corner boundary markers are necessary along adjacent private properties.
The Town of Bell will oversee the property and assess progress toward the management plan objectives. However, as the holder of the future conservation easement that will also be placed on the Property as desired by the private landowners, the Bayfield Regional Conservancy will also play a role in monitoring the property’s conservation values. A Conservancy representative will visit the Property at least annually to ensure compliance with the terms of the conservation easement. As a local conservation organization, the Conservancy will also be able to help the Town of Bell identify challenges and implement solutions by assisting the Town with grant writing and providing technical assistance. Monitoring activities are a proven, reliable system for detecting and reporting any management and environmental issues that require attention and/or action. In collaboration with community volunteers, the Town of Bell will monitor the Property for the following:
 Invasive plant species.
 Soil compaction and erosion on sensitive slopes.
 Sediment deposition in the estuary.
 Progress and effectiveness of restoration areas as opportunities arise and actions are implemented.
 Trail use to ensure foot traffic is not causing damage to trails or natural resources.
 Trail infrastructure and signage to ensure it remains in good condition.
Threat of Conversion
The greatest threat to this Property is the potential for development as the Property is large and located close to Lake Superior and along the Siskiwit River. The steep slopes and coastal estuary are not currently protected by zoning requirements for sufficient setbacks, and the proximity to Lake Superior and the river is very valuable to land speculators. Over the past few decades, tourism has accounted for an increasing share of the Bayfield Peninsula’s economy resulting in increased land fragmentation and development, especially along the Lake Superior shoreline and its rivers. Near the Village of Cornucopia, several large properties have been sub-divided for residential development. While the landowners of the Project Area value conservation, a future sale of their lands to private landowners would likely result in increased residential development due to the Property’s proximity to the Village of Cornucopia, Lake Superior, and road access.
Bayfield County’s Comprehensive states that “Over the next 20 years, forestlands will likely continue to experience increased pressures since residential developments desire the natural setting of woodlots. In addition, the demand for recreational and hunting land will continue to go up since there is a limited supply of high quality forestland” (2011, page 65).
As mentioned above, the Dorau property is zoned Residential, Recreational-Business (RR-B) and Residential 1 (R-1) by Bayfield County. While development of these approximately 5 acres is not very likely due to the wetland conditions, changes in federal/state/local laws could allow future disturbance and changes to the habitat. The Surowiec property is zoned Residential 1 (R-1) by Bayfield County. Shoreland zoning restrictions also apply to the property. Local planning and zoning allow for current and future forested and agriculture use as well as development. This property is highly developable due to its size, features, and its proximity to Lake Superior and the Siskiwit River.
Currently, none of the Property parcels are on the market. While the Dorau family will be selling another parcel with cabins, their desire is to protect the palustrine shrub-scrub wetland. The Surowiec family also wishes to first try and protect their property through acquisition with no development but allowing non-motorized public use before considering alternatives.
Project Readiness
Four parcels totaling a land area of approximately 100 acres have been identified and the acquisition of these parcels involving two landowners is feasible to complete within the award period. The Town of Bell and the Bayfield Regional Conservancy have been working with the landowners for over a year. Negotiations have resulted in an Option to Purchase Agreement with the Dorau family and a Letter of Intent with the Surowiec family. An appraisal has been completed for both properties, and shared with the landowners. A title investigation has been completed for all 4 parcels, and affirms that none of the parcels are subject to litigation, liens, judgments or other situations. Additionally, none of the parcels have contamination or other environmental hazards.
Ability to Acquire Land
Under State of Wisconsin statutes, the Town of Bell has a right by a majority vote of the eligible electors voting at the annual town meeting or a special town meeting with notice assembled and voting, to pass a resolution authorizing the Town Board the right to purchase property for town public purposes. The purchase price and legal description of the property are included in the resolution. The Town of Bell has previous success in acquiring lands for long-term conservation and public recreation purposes in partnership with the Bayfield Regional Conservancy in the land now known as Corny Beach and a parcel next to it was traded with the Tillman Marina for land owned by the Town of Bell located within the Marina and leased by the Tillmans.
Ability to Manage Land
Along Lake Superior’s shoreline, the Town of Bell has protected
the freshwater estuary of Cornucopia Beach in prior partnership with the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Bayfield Regional
Conservancy. Additionally, the Town of Bell owns and manages over
400 acres in the Siskiwit River Watershed and manages them to help
reduce flashy flows in the river and minimize sedimentation of the estuary. The protection of these 100 acres through acquisition would complement these previous protection efforts, and assure additional protection of the estuary and its river. The Town of Bell has an active Parks and Recreation Committee, and a budget is prepared annually for stewardship of Town lands. The Town of Bell also has experience in seeking and receiving grants. The Bayfield Regional Conservancy will also assist the Town with some management activities, helping to recruit volunteers, attending volunteer work days, and providing technical expertise.
Project Timeline
ACTIVITY
TIMELINE
STATUS
Identify site for purchase
2015
Complete
Acquire appraisals and title opinions
2016
Complete
Prepare management plan
2016
Draft already completed. Need more details for restoration activities.
Submit grant to Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program
August 2016
Complete
Town of Bell votes to move forward on applying for CELCP grant funding to acquire the Siskiwit River Estuary Preserve
September 13, 2016
Complete
Submit CELCP application to NOAA if invited
October 2017
Complete negotiations with landowners
2017
Receive grants and close on Property
By November 1, 2017
Inventory invasive species (including buckthorn, honeysuckle, and orange hawkweed) and develop a plan for control/removal and on-going maintenance.
2018
Already started
Define parking area on east side of river on Surowiec property.
2018
Area already exists but needs to be further improved
Create informational sign and kiosk to be placed at parking area and other entrance areas.
2018
Survey Property to identify best locations for various trails and additional parking areas. Work with local community members to develop. Seek grant funding as needed.
2018-2020
Develop and place trail marker signs.
2018-2020
Post boundary markers.
As needed in 2018
Develop additional interpretive signage as opportunities and funding arise.
As needed
Restore old farm field to native plants.
Within 10 years
Document 3:  Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project
Land Management Plan DRAFT
July 2016
1. Primary goals of the project
Description of the Siskiwit River & Estuary:
Located at the top of the Bayfield Peninsula in the Superior Coastal Plain Ecological Landscape of Wisconsin, the Siskiwit River flows into Lake Superior in the Village of Cornucopia located in the Town of Bell. The Siskiwit River Watershed covers 27 square miles and the land use is primarily forested with a small amount of agriculture. Much of the watershed is privately owned, making private landowner choices very important for the long-term health of the watershed. The upper 5 miles of the river are classified by the State of Wisconsin as an Exceptional Resource Water and as a Class I trout stream, and the lower one mile segment is classified as a Class II trout stream because of the lack of spawning beds on the sandstone outcrop. The Siskiwit River coastal estuary and its surrounding forests are an outstanding natural resource and provide important habitat for fish and wildlife. These include lake-run rainbow and brown trout, chinook and coho salmon, spawning northern pike and suckers, and migratory and breeding birds. The lower watershed is located in a Tier I and Tier II Migratory Bird Stopover area, providing habitat to waterfowl, land birds, and raptors. Additionally, the coastal wetlands in this South Shore of Lake Superior area have been identified as an Important Bird Area by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative. The land provides an important habitat corridor to birds coming off of Lake Superior and moving to more inland forests. The lower watershed, in particular, has long been recognized both locally and throughout the region for the river and its waterfalls that flow over Orienta Brownstone shelves as an “ambassador landscape” that builds public appreciation of Lake Superior estuaries. While privately owned, these properties have been featured in Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, in Lake Superior Magazine, and on websites about waterfalls in the Great Lakes Area.
Description of the Property:
The approximately 100 acres, consisting of four parcels, are owned by two different landowners. The Surowiec Family owns the majority of the acreage in three different parcels. The Dorau family owns a smaller parcel near the mouth of the Siskiwit River where it enters Lake Superior. The Property is located in northern Bayfield County, Wisconsin in the Town of Bell, in Sections 34 and 35 of Township 51N and Range 6W (see Exhibit A). Taken together, the Property encompasses approximately 4,000 linear feet of the Siskiwit River which is a defining feature. The Property also includes ravines, uplands, and lowland areas. This area of the lower watershed
Comment [EL1]: Plan can be updated based on community input. It is a biologically rich environment that provides habitat for a variety of plants and animals. There are both Northern Mesic and Boreal forest types and tree species include cedar, hemlock, pines, yellow birch, oak, maple, aspen and balsam fir among others. Boreal forests have been identified as High Priority by the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan. An inventory of plants has been conducted and includes representatives from both Northern Mesic and Boreal forest types. Additionally, the endangered auricled twayblade (Listera auriculata) is known to occur in the area according to Wisconsin’s Lake Superior coastal wetlands evaluation published by E.J. Epstein, et. al in 1997. Animals include bear, deer, coyote, and red fox as well as others. Many resident as well as migratory birds use this area due to its proximity to Lake Superior, coastal wetlands, the Siskiwit River, and forests.
Surowiec Property –
The Surowiec family owns approximately 95 acres. The property is diverse, with mixed hardwood and conifer species, a 3,000 linear foot riparian corridor along the Siskiwit River, a 1,200 linear foot stretch of waterfalls, a coastal estuary wetland area, several small ravines, old apple orchards, and an old farm field. The Siskiwit River, a series of waterfalls, and a kettle hole formation are located in the SW parcel. Narrow foot trails exist along the river that visitors have used through the years. This parcel also includes a remnant boreal forest and a wet meadow. The northeast 30 acres is a coastal estuary wetland with several small drainages that flow across the parcel to the river. Vegetation consists of alder species, red-osier dogwood, and willow as well as old apple trees from past agriculture use of the property. There is also a forested corridor in the lower half that consists of mixed species including aspen, balsam fir, maple, and oak. The area has been converting back to more wetland vegetation over the past 40 years. The southeast 20 acres is partially forested, and the remaining acreage is pastureland that is still actively mowed for hay by a local farmer. If restored back to forest cover, the vegetation will help provide a more natural buffer for drainages to the Siskiwit River and its estuary. This parcel also contains a small house. The Surowiec property is bordered by County Highway C, State Highway 13, a local road, and other private landowners.
Dorau Property –
The Dorau family owns approximately 5 acres that they seek to protect through acquisition. The property is located in the coastal estuary of the Siskiwit River and is near the mouth of the river where it flows into Lake Superior. It includes approximately 1,000 feet of Siskiwit River frontage along the river’s south side. The vegetation is dominated by tag alder, with other coastal estuary plants intermixed. The riparian corridor is intact and provides important habitat to rearing and adult fish, migratory and resident birds, as well as waterfowl. The property is contiguous to the Surowiec’s SW parcel and is bordered by other private land and State Highway 13.
Goals of the Project:
Over the past few decades, tourism has accounted for an increasing share of the Bayfield Peninsula’s economy resulting in increased land fragmentation and development, especially along the Lake Superior shoreline and its rivers. With subdivision and residential development on the rise in Bayfield County, the Bayfield Regional Conservancy has prioritized several areas of high conservation value for land protection. The Siskiwit River watershed is one such area. Covering a sensitive sandy, rocky and clay mix substrate in the Superior Coastal Plain Ecological Landscape Area, the lower Siskiwit Watershed is especially vulnerable to erosion without proper protection and management of its lands. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, water quality and wetland function are known to be adversely affected by open lands (e.g., developed land, agriculture, and young forest) and positively affected by older forests and conifers.
The primary goals of this project are to:
 Preserve quality stopover habitat for migratory birds;
 Protect the coastal estuary wetlands to provide wildlife habitat and water quality benefits to the Siskiwit River and Lake Superior;
 Maintain water quality of the Siskiwit River, its estuary, and associated wetlands by preserving shoreline habitat and ameliorating streambank erosion;
 Protect and increase the amount of un-fragmented forestland in the Siskiwit Watershed;
 Provide a public recreation area for nature-based outdoor activities.
The Bayfield Regional Conservancy and the Town of Bell intend to keep preservation of this lower watershed ecosystem and protection of the Siskiwit River primary goals in managing the Property for public use. The Property will be managed in a manner that will further protect the fragile soils, forest habitats, and wildlife species while also allowing non-motorized public use. Currently, the Property is privately owned and closed to the public. Following acquisition, visitors to the Property will be able to enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, trapping, and hunting. The Town of Bell may choose to work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to create a permit system to regulate hunting for the safety of the Village of Cornucopia and nearby homes. Other opportunities include nature appreciation, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and photography. Visitors will likely include local and regional residents as well as tourists, as areas of the Property are already well known. Through a trail system, local residents as well as others will be able to travel from the Village of Cornucopia to access the Property.
Improvements and Structures
A. Existing Physical Improvements or Structures (see Exhibit B)
On the Surowiec property, narrow foot trails exist along the river that visitors have used through the years, and some are overgrown. A large open area on the Surowiec property previously contained small cottages, and could be used as a small parking area. Access to the Surowiec property can currently occur via the roads that surround the property on its south and east sides. No structures or trails exist on the Dorau property. Access to the Dorau property can currently occur via the Siskiwit River from the bridge along State Highway 13.
There is one small house on the Surowiec property, and it is not inhabited. The appraisal conducted by Steigerwaldt Land Services reports that the “cottage does not have much contributory value as it has a significant amount of deferred maintenance and would take time and expense to repair to a fully useable condition.” If grantors allow the building to stay, the Town of Bell may use the building to store stewardship supplies and/or for seasonal parks committee staff in their work to manage the Property and other Town of Bell publicly accessible properties.
B. Proposed Improvements and Recreational Development
Trails – Two longer trail systems are being proposed on the Surowiec property; one on the west side through the forest and into the Village of Cornucopia; and one on the east side through the wetland. The east trail system may experience more use when drier conditions or freezing conditions are present and boardwalk material may need to be installed to protect vegetation and soils. The narrow trails along the river will be evaluated and improved to further protect the natural resources and to increase public safety. No trails are feasible on the Dorau property due to the wetland conditions. Visitors can instead use the river as a “water” trail.
Parking Areas – Two small parking areas will likely be developed on the Surowiec property. On the east side, there is a large area that will be used; it previously contained small cottages. A driveway already exists. On the west side, a small parking area could be enhanced near the existing cottage. No parking areas are feasible on the Dorau property due to the wetland conditions.
Signage & Interpretive Displays – The trails will be marked so visitors can successfully navigate the trails, especially in the winter months. It will be important for visitors to stay on the trails near the river to minimize soil compaction and erosion. The Bayfield Regional Conservancy will work with partners to create an informational sign kiosk to be placed at the main entrance to the Surowiec property and it will include a map, information about allowable uses and forest habitats and wildlife, and historical information about the property. Additional interpretive signage may be installed at other entrances and/or along the trails as needed in the future.
Boundary markers – We will evaluate whether or not corner boundary markers are necessary along adjacent private properties.
 Current Land Use
Currently, the entire Property has been privately owned for many years, and the majority of the land has not been actively managed. On the Surowiec property, approximately 15 acres are still being actively mowed for hay by a local farmer through a verbal agreement.
Ecological Issues on the Property
Currently, there are very few ecological issues on the Property. Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is growing near the edges along the road in several locations. Non-native orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) is present in a few open places in the forest. These areas will be monitored and steps will be taken to control its spread. Additionally, common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and non-native honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) are present in the old apple orchard on the Surowiec property and at the edges of the fields. The Surowiec family has been working with an experienced contractor to locate and remove/control these species over the past year, and The Town of Bell and the Bayfield Regional Conservancy will continue to do so with help from partners and volunteers. On the Dorau property, common buckthorn is present at the forested edge of the wetland. Both buckthorn and honeysuckle are present elsewhere in the Village of Cornucopia and the surrounding area so will likely remain an on-going challenge.
Additionally, due to the steep slopes along the river on the Surowiec property, partners are aware that the steep slopes and sensitive soils could cause problems with erosion if public use and trails are not properly managed. It will be challenging to prevent access to the ecologically fragile slopes in areas of the river corridor that are already being frequently visited. Intelligent placement of signage and trail placement as well as education of visitors should alleviate this problem considerably.
While the Property is adjacent to privately owned properties, no trespassing is currently occurring. Property boundaries will be monitored.
Land Management Goals and Practices
As the future owner, the Town of Bell will oversee activities on the Property and activities will be implemented in accordance with best management practices. The general land management goal is to manage this Property as a natural area with a small system of trails. Any land management practices will help preserve habitats, minimize erosion and sedimentation, and contribute to protecting water quality of the Siskiwit River watershed as well as Lake Superior downstream. Protection of this property will add to the Town of Bell’s 403 acres of Siskiwit Watershed Protection Lands (Exhibit C), which the town manages to reduce flashy flows in the river and minimize sedimentation of the estuary. As a local conservation organization, the Conservancy will be able to help the Town of Bell with management activities by assisting the Town with grant writing and providing technical assistance. In the implementation of this management plan, the Town of Bell will involve numerous community members and partner organizations/entities.
Land Management Goals and Practices include:
Goal: Preserve and expand the boreal forest community for its aesthetic, historic and ecologic values.
Action: Leave this unique community untouched, with the exception of the removal of
downed trees near trails or invasive species.
Action: Carefully place and monitor visitor trails, especially along the Siskiwit River corridor.
Action: Identify key locations to expand this forest type through active and passive restoration actions.
Goal 2: Maintain and/or improve the water quality of the Siskiwit River, its coastal estuary, and associated wetlands as affected by this property.
Action: Identify places of accelerated erosion/slumping, disturbed sites, and loss of diversity through observations and vegetation surveys.
Action: Interpret data to develop a plan (as needed) to reduce disturbance and slow the flow of runoff through potential use of plantings (such as in the old farm field) or swales.
Action: Place trail infrastructure at strategic locations to minimize erosion and sedimentation and monitor use.
Action: Balance fish habitat and estuary values with public use values by potentially managing the sediment in the lower gradient stream corridor through a state and federal approved sediment management plan and proper permits. The build-up of sediment near the mouth of the Siskiwit River is an on-going challenge for the Town of Bell and its harbor. The plan would address the design, construction, on-going monitoring, maintenance, and sediment removal/relocation procedures. It would also ensure protection of the coastal estuary habitat. The Conservancy recognizes that like many estuaries of the Great Lakes, the Siskiwit River estuary is located near a river mouth Harbor of Refuge designated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Goal 3: Preserve quality habitat for various wildlife species including waterfowl, resident and migratory landbirds, and raptors as well as others.
Action: Protect coastal estuary wetlands through proper placement of trail infrastructure and removal/control of invasive species.
Action: Protect other habitat areas through proper placement of trail infrastructure and removal/control of invasive species.
Goal 4: Provide recreational and educational opportunities for the public within the capabilities of the land and the ecological values being protected.
Action: Identify locations for trails on the Surowiec property that provide access while protecting the natural resources.
Action: Evaluate and improve narrow trails along the Siskiwit River to further protect the natural resources and protect public safety.
Action: Develop and place interpretive signs to educate the public about the allowable uses, habitats and wildlife, and historical information about the property.
Goal 5: Increase engagement of community members to support the protection of the Siskiwit River Watershed
Action: Raise awareness of landowners living in the watershed about actions they can take to complement the stewardship of this Property and further protect the ecological and community values of the Siskiwit River Watershed.
 Implementation
To implement various management activities, the Town of Bell may choose to seek cost-share funding from state, federal, and/or local partners. It will also work with community partners (including the Bayfield Regional Conservancy) to obtain grants and donations to fund materials for infrastructure improvements. Work will be performed when the ground is relatively dry or frozen to minimize soil compaction. Additionally, hand tools and non-motorized equipment will be used when possible to avoid impacts to sensitive soils.
Activities and their proposed timeline may include:
ACTIVITY
TIMELINE
Inventory invasive species (including buckthorn, honeysuckle, and orange hawkweed) and develop a plan for control/removal and on-going maintenance.
2018
Develop parking area on east side of river on Surowiec property.
2018
Create informational sign and kiosk to be placed at parking area and other entrance areas.
2018
Survey property to identify best locations for various trails and additional parking areas. Work with local community members to develop. Seek grant funding as needed.
2018-2020
Develop and place trail marker signs.
2018-2020
Post boundary markers.
As needed in 2018
Develop additional interpretive signage as opportunities and funding arise.
As needed
Develop restoration plan for old farm field and plant native plants.
Within 10 years
 Monitoring
The Town of Bell will oversee the Property and assess progress toward the management plan objectives. However, as the holder of the future conservation easement that will also be placed on the Property as desired by the private landowners, the Bayfield Regional Conservancy will also play a role in monitoring the property’s conservation values. A Conservancy representative will visit the Property at least annually to ensure compliance with the terms of the conservation easement. As a local conservation organization, the Conservancy will also be able to help the Town of Bell identify challenges and implement solutions by assisting the Town with grant writing and providing technical assistance. Monitoring activities are a proven, reliable system for detecting and reporting any management and environmental issues that require attention and/or action. In collaboration with community volunteers, the Town of Bell will monitor the Property for the following:
 Invasive plant species.
 Soil compaction and erosion on sensitive slopes.
 Sediment deposition in the estuary.
 Progress and effectiveness of restoration areas as opportunities arise and actions are implemented.
 Trail use to ensure foot traffic is not causing damage to trails or natural resources.
 Trail infrastructure and signage to ensure it remains in good condition.
Document 4:  January 2017
Siskiwit River Estuary Protection Project
Preserving Northwestern Wisconsin, A PLACE YOU LOVE
Background In the spring of 2015, following the passing of Dorothy and Dennis Swenson, Brent and Cheri (Swenson) Surowiec contacted the Bayfield Regional Conservancy about protecting their family’s 95 acre property in some way while allowing for public access. In the summer of 2016, adjacent downstream landowners, Larry and Marcy Dorau, also contacted BRC about protecting their 5 acres as part of the larger project. Over the past year, the Conservancy has been working closely with the landowners and the Town of Bell to explore future ownership, management, and land protection options. The Conservancy and the Town of Bell are now pursuing competitive grants through Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (to which Wisconsin Coastal Management Program applies) to acquire and protect the property collectively and hopefully in the fall of 2017. About the Property Located at the top of the Bayfield Peninsula in the Superior Coastal Plain Ecological Landscape of Wisconsin, the Siskiwit River flows into Lake Superior in the Village of Cornucopia located in the Town of Bell. The Siskiwit River Watershed covers 27 square miles and the land use is primarily forested with a small amount of agriculture. The upper 5 miles of the river are classified by the State of Wisconsin as an Exceptional Resource Water and as a Class I trout stream, and the lower one mile segment is classified as a Class II trout stream because of the lack of spawning beds on the sandstone outcrop. The Siskiwit River coastal estuary and its surrounding forests are an outstanding natural resource and provide important habitat for fish and wildlife. These include lake-run rainbow and brown trout, chinook and coho salmon, spawning northern pike and suckers, and migratory and breeding birds. The lower watershed is located in a Tier I and Tier II Migratory Bird Stopover area, providing habitat to waterfowl, land birds, and raptors. Additionally, the coastal wetlands in this South Shore of Lake Superior area have been identified as an Important Bird Area by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative. The lower watershed, in particular, has long been recognized both locally and throughout the region for the river and its waterfalls that flow over Orienta Brownstone shelves as an “ambassador landscape” that builds public appreciation of Lake Superior estuaries. The Siskiwit River estuary is part of an extensive coastal wetland complex that spans much of Siskiwit Bay eventually connecting with Lost Creek Bog State Natural Area, a high quality coastal wetland located south and west of the Siskiwit River mouth. The property is approximately 100 acres and is very diverse. It includes mixed hardwood and conifer forests, a boreal forest, over 4,000 linear feet along the Siskiwit River, a 1,200 linear foot stretch of waterfalls, a coastal estuary wetland area, several ravines, and an old apple orchard. Proposal The landowners would like to permanently protect the property’s conservation values/resources while allowing public access to the property. They would like to work with the Bayfield Regional Conservancy and its partners to protect all 100 acres if possible. They would like the public to be able to access the property but do so through limited infrastructure and not at the detriment of the environment. They have asked that the Town of Bell become the owner and manager of the property (alternatively Bayfield County) and for the Bayfield Regional Conservancy to hold a conservation easement on the property. The Conservancy would also be able to work with the future property owner to steward the conservation values and public use. The Conservancy would also hold a future conservation on the property to protects its conservation values forever.