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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Van Vliet Hemlocks (No. 673)

Van Vliet Hemlocks

Photo by Eric Epstein


Overview

Location

Within the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Vilas County. T43N-R6W, Section 16. 412 acres.

Description

Description

Van Vliet Hemlocks protects an ecologically significant stretch of undeveloped lake frontage and harbors one of the largest, old-growth hemlock-hardwood forests in this region - now very rare in Wisconsin. Large stands of old-growth hemlock-hardwood forest are present with scattered super-canopy white pine as well as pockets of forested wetlands and bogs. The old-growth canopy is dominated by eastern hemlock, sugar maple, yellow birch, and basswood. Associates include white ash, paper birch and ironwood. Saplings are primarily sugar maple, though most other canopy species are also reproducing. There is some localized hemlock reproduction but heavy deer browse is evident. As is typical in old hemlock hardwood forests, the shrub layer is generally sparse except in gaps where sunlight can reach the forest floor and thickets of beaked hazelnut, red elderberry, American fly-honeysuckle, and thimbleberry occur. The herb layer includes intermediate wood fern, Canada mayflower, wild sarsaparilla, rosy twisted stalk, lady fern, and sweet cicely. Birds present include Blackburnian warbler, Black-throated green warbler, ovenbird, and osprey. The site also includes undisturbed black ash-cedar swamps in kettle depressions, several small, undeveloped bog lakes, large beds of emergent aquatic macrophytes, and frontage on Averill and Van Vliet lakes. A good quality poor fen supports the diminutive fairy slipper orchid situated within the characteristic assemblage of sphagnum mosses, ericaceous shrubs, sedges, and insectivorous plants. Van Vliet Hemlocks is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2013.

Access

Driving directions

From the intersection of County B and Crab Lake Road in Presque Isle, go south on Crab Lake Road 3.7 miles, then west on East Van Vliet Road 0.9 miles to a parking lot and trailhead.

See the trail map [PDF] for details.

Ownership

Van Vliet Hemlocks is owned by:

  • WDNR

Maps

The DNR's state natural areas program is comprised of lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals. While the majority of SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety, or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities. Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details.

The data shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries.

Recreation

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for a variety of recreational activities as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map and/or under the "Access" tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

Allowable activities

In general, the activities listed below are allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted under the "Access" tab above and posted with signs on site.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping

Prohibited activities

  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material, alive or dead. Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Camping and campfires
  • Geocaching

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]

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Last revised: Monday, August 14, 2017