Francie Barnes has spent summers in Northwest Wisconsin her entire life. In the early 1900s her grandfather worked in real estate, and when parts of Douglas County were devastated by forest fires, he traveled up from Rockford, IL and purchased land at fifty cents an acre. Her mother and aunt grew up spending summers on nearby Whitefish Lake, as did she and her sisters, and they were kept there into the fall to avoid exposure to the Polio epidemic.
Francie describes herself as a ‘wanderer’ and always loved exploring, especially the area around Bergen Springs. As a young mother she fell in love with Bergen Creek while canoeing with her sister and bought some abutting property. Later she explored the bog when she learned it was up for sale. Worried that it might become bags of peat moss, she contracted to buy it.
Landmark has been working with Francie since 2020 to protect the 30-acre property that includes a pristine open water bog rimmed with transitional layers of bog vegetation. Last summer, Landmark had the opportunity to conduct a plant survey of the site with participation from Northland College faculty and students. Dozens of species were documented, the study affirmed the views of our Conservation Team: that the combination of habitats – xeric woods, bracken grassland/barren, fen, muskeg, and sedge meadow/stream – provide a very worthy site for a conservation easement and permanent protection.
Francie commented that she especially loves the insectivorous plants like Greater Bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris) sharing with humor that her dog-eared copy of Wildflowers of the BWCA and the North Shore (Stensaas and Kollath, 2003) describes the plant as having “Pretty little yellow flower heads [that] peek up above the surface of the bog pond, appearing innocent and benign, but underwater the roots harbor dozens of death chambers.” The guide goes on to state that research has shown that the bladders may actually catch and eat very few of the micro invertebrates within these traps and instead they host “happy little communities of algae and zooplankton.”
Conservation Manager Erika Lang stated that, “As is often the case on these projects, we learned so much from the landowner Francie who is a self-trained ecologist and life-long nature enthusiast. It will be an honor to carry forward her ethic of stewardship in the years to come.”