While taking annual family vacations to Madeline Island in the 1980s and 1990s, Tony Biebl knew he wanted to one day own land near the Brule River to fly fish and hunt for grouse. In 2002, Tony and his wife Kathleen did just that and purchased 532 acres in Douglas County to manage the property for wildlife habitat. With his keen interest in ecology, Biebl felt a responsibility to protect the natural integrity of his property. In 2013, he worked with Bayfield Regional Conservancy, now Landmark Conservancy, to permanently protect his land with a conservation easement.
Tony has shared his positive experiences working with Landmark Conservancy with friends, family, and neighbors. In 2020, when his neighbor was looking to sell his 120-acre property, Biebl explained, “He was intrigued with what I was doing with my land – habitat improvement, no development– so he contacted me about buying his land to put it into a conservation easement.”
After this recent 120-acre addition, Biebl’s conservation easement now totals 652 acres. The property, most of which consists of forest and wetlands, includes over 6,000 feet of Casey Creek, a Class 1 Trout Stream that flows into the Brule River. His protected property is adjacent to 3,000 acres of Douglas County Forest land and is further connected to the Brule River State Forest, totaling over 47,000 acres.
By protecting large contiguous tracts of public and private land, we enable opportunities for landscape-level management and conservation. Many species require large undeveloped areas to thrive and fulfill parts of their life cycle.
With the vision of hunting and fishing on his property in mind, Biebl chose to implement a forest management plan with a focus on wildlife habitat. He enjoys improving the land to support the health of the forest by working with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists, private foresters, the Ruffed Grouse Society, and the USDA to incorporate management practices aimed at biological species diversity. These efforts have continued for 20 years, resulting in a large mosaic of upland forest, ash and alder swampland, and open marsh that is a laboratory of best-known ecological practices. The wildlife has flourished, particularly species such as ruffed grouse, woodcock, golden-winged warblers, and many mammals that thrive in diverse, young forest habitats. The area now provides diverse age classes of timber and, “instead of creating a monoculture, the forest management plan promotes diversity and creates nesting habitat for a variety of species,” Biebl noted.
When reflecting on his land being protected forever with Landmark Conservancy, Tony observed, “It means that all of the effort from foresters and biologists isn’t going to waste. It’s not a strip mall or fifteen houses; this land won’t be urbanized.” In Biebl’s view, “It’s a nice legacy to leave.”