The Telemark Forest
The Telemark Forest

When a group of Cable area residents approached Landmark Conservancy with interest in protecting a portion of the former Mt. Telemark property in southern Bayfield County, we took action. Empowered by our Board of Directors, and encouraged by a strong community of advocates, we entered into a land contract with the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) this summer.

Telemark Forest

About the Property

The Mt. Telemark property was purchased in 1947 by Tony Wise, and quickly became a popular area for cross-country skiing. The historic lodge was built on the east side in 1972, and the first American Birkebeiner ski race was held in 1973. The west side of the property remained quiet, removed from the bustling resort – much how it remains today.

Over 10,000 years ago, Wisconsin’s last glacier disintegrated in this area, leaving behind a rolling and hummocky landscape of sand, gravel and rock, an ideal substrate to nurture today’s forest of oak and pine. Low-lying areas collect water which slowly seeps into the sandy soil, providing essential groundwater to feed the clear and cold Namekagon River.

Today’s forest community is entirely intact, containing older growth forest characteristics which will only improve over time. Multiple age classes exist in the forest stand, along with tree falls that create canopy openings and pit and mound topography on the forest floor. A healthy forest includes rotting dead wood as well as live trees.

A Forest for the People

As important as trees and wildlife and nature is the ability for people to rally around their responsible use and protection. We need wild and remote areas, but we also need accessible places to enjoy, to recharge and to recreate. With easy trail access to a public road, our ability to deliver a safe and high-quality natural experience is within our reach.
Telemark Preserve Trail

Purchase of the Telemark Forest by Landmark Conservancy achieves the following:

  • Conserves the forested habitat for native plants, animals, and people, and continues its trajectory towards an older, climax forest community.
  • Protects the Namekagon River watershed and groundwater recharge areas to provide crucial coldwater for fish.
  • Sustains the character of the Northwoods for future generations.
  • Provides low-impact recreational opportunities to residents and visitors such as backcountry hiking and skiing, snowshoeing and wildlife viewing.
  • Provides alternative access to Birkebeiner Ski and Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) trails.
  • Provides meaningful and accessible opportunities for citizen engagement with nature.

Science has shown that conserving large, intact areas of land will help terrestrial and aquatic species better adapt to a changing climate. The Telemark Forest Preserve has connectivity with Bayfield County forestland, and Landmark is working with the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation to protect additional adjacent land through conservation easement.

 “Maintaining a healthy watershed is critical to sustainability of the coldwater resources that make the Namekagon River exceptional,” said Max Wolter, DNR Fisheries Biologist. “Minimizing impervious surfaces and maximizing groundwater infiltration provides the coldwater spring and groundwater seep that allow streams in the Cable area to support native and naturalized trout populations. These actions will become increasingly important as climate change adds additional thermal stressors to coldwater species, including native brook trout.”

The Clock is Ticking!

We took a calculated leap of faith when entering into this project – that the values important to the community and to Landmark will resonate with others. A grant opportunity with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will help but is not guaranteed at this time and will not make up the shortfall we have today. We need your support to bring this project to completion.

Landmark Conservancy staff and supporters welcome the community to join us for a hog roast on Saturday, October 23 at the Cable Recreation Park pavilion to learn about this land purchase that will become the Telemark Forest Preserve.