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- Natural areas
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- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Lake Alva Birch-Hemlock (No. 509)
Within the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Vilas County. T42N-R8E, Section 27, 28, 33. 314 acres.
Lake Alva-Birch Hemlock features a mature northern mesic forest on the rolling topography south of Lake Alva. The old-growth forest is composed of hemlock, yellow birch, and sugar maple with basswood, red oak, and white pine. Very large, old trees are present including scattered super-canopy white pine. In minimally disturbed areas the hemlock comprises 50% of the canopy with trees averaging between 9-15 inches in diameter and the largest trees up to 25 inches. Although hemlock reproduction is minimal here, there are lush beds of hemlock saplings in the stand adjacent to the wetland southeast of the lake. The groundlayer includes Canada mayflower, shining club-moss, American starflower, bunchberry, three-leaved goldthread, winterberry, trailing arbutus, twinflower, and twisted stalk. On more level terrain further south and east is a second-growth hardwood forest of medium-sized sugar maple, red oak, and paper birch. A few small stands of medium to large hemlock occur within this hardwood matrix. The undeveloped 24-acre Lake Alva is a seepage lake with low fertility and a sand/gravel bottom. Surrounding the lake is a conifer swamp dominated by black spruce and tamarack with white cedar, balsam fir, and white spruce. Understory species include blueberry, leather-leaf, pond sedge, creeping snowberry, Labrador tea, bog rosemary, cinnamon fern, pitcher plant, and American starflower. Of note is the presence of the state-threatened red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus). Lake Alva-Birch Hemlock is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2007.
From Boulder Junction, Go south and east on County K 5.7 miles, then north and east on Nixon Lake Road 6.2 miles, then south on Camp No 2 Road 2.1 miles to an old logging road north of the road. Park and walk north into the site.
Lake Alva Birch-Hemlock is owned by:
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.
Manage the site as an old growth northern mesic forest and aquatic reserve and as an ecological reference area. Natural processes will determine the structure of the forest and lake. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality old growth northern mesic forests.
Native species are managed passively, allowing nature to determine the ecological characteristics. Exceptions include control of invasive plants and animals, and maintenance of existing facilities. Salvage of trees after a major wind event is not considered compatible with management objectives.
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.
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.
- Cross country skiing
- Horseback riding
- Rock climbing
- Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
- Collecting of animals, 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
For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]