More than 2,500 acres sold to DNR and The Trust for Public Land
FLORENCE, Wis., Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ — In transactions that will protect unique and environmentally significant lands and waterways in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, We Energies announced today that it has completed more than 2,500 acres of land sales to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL).
The land sold to the DNR includes more than 500 acres in Florence County, and the transaction with TPL encompasses approximately 2,000 acres in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Woods Creek, a main tributary to two of Wisconsin’s designated Wild Rivers, runs through a portion of the 500 acres sold to the DNR. Woods Creek provides upstream protection for the Popple and Pine Rivers and is a Class 1 brook trout stream.
“It’s gratifying to take ownership of these remarkable lands and to assure they will be available to our children and grandchildren,” said Matt Frank, DNR Secretary. “We Energies has carefully tended to these wild places and the state is honored to take over that duty. We would not have been able to do this without the state’s unique Stewardship Fund, the tool that allows us to preserve what’s so special about Wisconsin.”
DNR ownership of land in and adjacent to the Spread Eagle Barrens Natural Area, also in Florence County, will maintain the existing protection of this unique oak-pine barrens landscape. Spread Eagle Barrens has been identified as a land legacy area and has been recommended as a priority for meeting Wisconsin’s future recreation and conservation needs.
The 2,000 acres sold to TPL are located in Upper Michigan’s Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness in the Ottawa National Forest. The Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness is part of the National Wild and Scenic River system. TPL is working with Michigan’s U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Representative Bart Stupak to secure federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund so that the Ottawa National Forest can acquire the land for permanent protection of the wilderness and the gorge.
“This is a rare opportunity to conserve a spectacular wilderness area for public use,” said Shaun Hamilton, Director of TPL’s Northwoods Initiative and manager on the project. “The transaction protects breathtaking Sturgeon Falls and adds more than six miles of the Sturgeon National Wild and Scenic River to the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness. Just east of this wilderness area is a ten-mile portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Natural areas like this must and can be protected.”
The latest transactions are part of We Energies’ overall sale of 11,000 acres in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin. The company completed the sale of over 7,400 acres of land in Upper Michigan to Wild River Properties, LLC in July 2007.
From the outset of the sale process, We Energies has honored the provisions of the Wilderness Shores Settlement Agreement. The company first approached state and federal natural resource agencies that had the right of first refusal on several of the parcels to determine their interest in purchasing the property.
None of the acreage that has been or will be sold lies within the boundaries of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses for the utility’s hydroelectric dams, nor will the lands be used for utility operations. We Energies will retain ownership of its FERC Project Lands, developed recreation areas around the dams and impoundments of the company’s 12 hydroelectric facilities. The property to be retained by We Energies spans some 30,000 acres.
We Energies will continue the sale process for the remaining 1,000 acres in the Upper Peninsula, which the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has expressed interest in acquiring.
For general questions, comments and additional information please visit http://www.we-energies.com/northernland or contact Rod Miller at 906-779-2478.
We Energies serves more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and more than 1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. Its energy prices are approximately 10 percent below the average for major U.S. cities. We Energies is the trade name of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Gas LLC, the principal utility subsidiaries of Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE:WEC) . Visit the We Energies Web site at http://www.we-energies.com/. Learn more about Wisconsin Energy Corporation by visiting http://www.wisconsinenergy.com/.
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Source: We Energies