Nature Conservancy Buys Land from Meteor Timber

The Nature Conservancy says lands will stay open for outdoor recreation

According to Rob Mentzer, writing for Wisconsin Public Radio, a large land purchase in central Wisconsin will help preserve the region’s forest and wetlands and expand both biodiversity and recreational opportunities.

The Nature Conservancy, a conservation group, announced the purchase of 3,243 acres of forest and wetlands in Adams County. That’s part of the Central Sands region of Wisconsin, characterized by its large deposits of sand and gravel. The land the conservancy acquired consists mostly of large tracts of red pine being cultivated for logging for the paper industry. About 500 acres of the land are wetlands.

The Nature Conservancy will keep the land open for hiking, hunting and snowmobiling, said conservation project manager Stephanie Judge. It will also seek to manage the land to expand the number of tree and plant species that can grow there, and to support habitats for the endangered Karner blue butterfly and the Kirtland’s warbler, a songbird that lives in young jack pines.

State records show that the conservancy bought the land for $3.5 million from Atlanta-based Meteor Timber. In nearby Monroe County, that company has been engaged in a protracted legal battle as it seeks to fill in wetlands to build a frac sand mine there. In January, it asked the state Supreme Court to intervene in the case.

One factor in making the land available for purchase may have been the hit that the logging industry has taken in Wisconsin. Adams County is just south of Wisconsin Rapids, where the closure of the Verso paper mill in 2020 has led to a years-long, statewide bust in timber prices.

Five separate tracts of land make up the purchase, mostly north and east of the Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area. And the purchase represents a significant expansion of The Nature Conservancy’s holdings in Wisconsin. The group now owns 30,334 acres across the state.

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