In the spring of 2024, 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 2024, adjacent downstream landowners, Larry and Marcy Dorau, also contacted BRC about protecting their 5 acres as part of the larger project.
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 through an application to the Wisconsion Coastal Management Program to acquire and protect the property collectively and hopefully by the end of 2024.
The landowners would like to permanently protect the property while still allowing public access. 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 or alternatively Bayfield County to become the owner and manager of the property, and for the Bayfield Regional Conservancy to hold a conservation easement on the preserve and in doing so, work with the Town to steward the forest, river, estuary and public use. Through a conservation easement, the property and its conservation values will be protected forever.
About the Property
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,
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.
How to Help
While funding to acquire the property will hopefully come through grants, the Conservancy would appreciate any donations that would help with the long-term stewardship of the property. Thank you!
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What gets protected