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Management plan decision expected for Van Vliet Hemlocks at Presque Isle, Wisconsin

RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) - The state Natural Resources Board is set to decide Wednesday on a plan for the Van Vliet Hemlocks. DNR officials are recommending the mostly old-growth parcel be managed with as little involvement as possible.

The agency had originally planned to do some cutting on part of the site that didn't fit the old-growth profile. But after overwhelming public comment, the DNR changed its plan to passive management for the entire site.

Chief DNR state forester Paul Delong says he doesn't know whether the Natural Resources Board will approve the recommendation. "There's a fair percentage of what we take before the board that they approve as recommended. But they do not infrequently modify what we recommend, as they fulfill their responsibilities as a board."

One supporter is Tom Olson, President of Friends of the Van Vliet Hemlocks. He and a few other members are heading to Madison to voice support for the plan. "We're very hopeful that it's going to go through, and we're not organizing a large group of people to go to Madison. We felt that we would best be served by making a brief statement in support."

Friends of the Van Vliet has also submitted a letter in favor of the DNR's new recommendation.

The Friends group was established in March 2011 to help protect and preserve the unique ecology of the Van Vliet Hemlocks on the Presque Isle site owned by the State of Wisconsin. The 400-acre parcel has more than 1 1/2 miles of shoreline. Its forested stand represents a rare remnant of the northern hardwood–hemlock forest which once dominated northern Wisconsin.