Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Photo of State Natural Area Photo: Thomas Meyer

Enterprise Hemlocks State Natural Area
Thomas Meyer

December 2012

Wisconsin, naturally

Enterprise Hemlocks State Natural Area

Notable: The presence of "coarse woody debris" is one of several distinguishing characteristics of oldgrowth forest ecosystems such as that protected at Enterprise Hemlocks. This material, composed of large, downed tree trunks and branches, tip-up mounds and standing snags, provides food and habitat for a variety of organisms, and adds significantly to the biological diversity of old forests. An entire functioning microcommunity of bacteria, fungi, mosses, lichens, insects, salamanders and other species can be supported in a single decaying log that may take as many as 100 years to fully decompose. Many bird and mammal species use coarse woody debris as nesting, feeding and denning sites. Enterprise Hemlocks features stands of mature mesic forest heavily dominated by eastern hemlock, along with sugar maple and yellow birch. Very old trees are present; some more than 200 years in age. A small, boggy conifer swamp and ephemeral ponds are scattered throughout the site in kettle depressions. Larger wetland areas are dominated by black spruce muskeg and white cedar swamp. Showy lady’s-slipper and small yellow lady’s slipper orchids can be found here in the late spring.

How to get there: Access is across Oneida County lands. The best forest is found on the two easternmost 80-acre tracts. To reach the northern 80: from the junction of U.S. Highway 8 and County G in Rhinelander, go south on G 8.3 miles to a parking area at the intersection of North (Sugarbush) Road. Walk 0.2 miles north to the southern boundary of the tract. For the southern 80: from the parking area, follow the snowmobile trail (Route 15) west 0.3 miles, then south about 0.6 miles to the tract. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search "Enterprise Hemlocks" for information and a map of the site. Visit Wisconsin DNR (search "Enterprise Hemlocks State Natural Area") for information and a map of the site.