Trail protection along the North Country National Scenic Trail has become more and more important as the NCTA and National Park Service increase their attention on getting the remainder of the trail off-road. Most of the remaining sections are on private land and in many cases an easement can be negotiated. In some cases, acquisition is the only answer.
In northwestern Wisconsin, NCTA staff and local volunteers had their eye on two key trail corridor parcels. In 2017, one of them came up for sale so with a team of partners the NCTA took action. For the first time, the North Country Trail Association was able to purchase a critical piece of land to protect it in perpetuity.
The NCTA teamed up with the West Wisconsin Land Trust and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to purchase a 113 acre piece of land in the Oronto Bay/Saxon Harbor area on Lake Superior.
The purchase called for a 10% match for the approximately $300,000 purchase price. State funds made up the balance of the needed funds. Twenty seven generous donors who believe in protecting this trail corridor and surrounding landscape stepped forward to support this important project. The NCTA was able to successfully raise $30,000 to make the purchase possible in 2017.
Visually beautiful and geographically diverse, this area was part of an ancient Native American trade route known as the Flambeau Trail and was the site of a fur trading post operated by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company from 1808 to 1830. Today, it is sought after for its rugged coastline, breathtaking views of Lake Superior and access to the popular Superior Falls, where hikers can watch the Montreal River drop 90 feet through steep canyon walls.
The purchase and protection of this critical parcel will “open up” two miles of new trail development for the North Country National Scenic Trail starting at the western Upper Peninsula of the Michigan border and traveling west/southwest connecting other scenic public lands. Since the NCTA and National Park Service have a policy not to own land on the NCNST corridor, the Iron Country Wisconsin has agreed to own it and be the land manager and it will become part of the Iron County Forest and Parks department.