DOTY TOWNSHIP, Wis. (WFRV) – A barrier-free fishing trail along the South Branch Oconto River is getting a makeover this winter to reduce resource impacts, improve safety, and restore access for visitors with limited mobility.
According to a release, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest expects construction to begin in March and continue through April 30.
While under construction, the forest service says the area will be closed and visitors are asked to stay away.
More than 20 years ago, organizers say the forest worked with the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, local chapters of Trout Unlimited, and other partners to build the quarter-mile boardwalk and series of fishing piers to provide a more accessible way to enjoy the Class I trout stream.
Over time, safety hazards have come to the forest service’s attention, with leading causes being degradation and frost heaving.
During winter construction, their plan is to repair or replace structures to prevent frost heave, better accommodate pedestrian traffic, reduce soil erosion and meet current accessibility standards.
Without a stewardship contracting agreement between the forest and The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization operating in Wisconsin, the restoration would not be possible.
Officials say Stewardship Contracting Authority, granted in the 2014 Farm Bill, allows national forests to enter into partnerships with non-profit organizations, state and local governments, educational institutions, and tribal entities to sell timber and use the proceeds of those sales to carry out projects that improve forest stand health, water quality, soil productivity, and wildlife and fish habitat.
“Five years in the making, this project reflects our investment in the health and sustainability of our national forests,” says Matt Dallman, the Nature Conservancy’s deputy state director.
The fully accessible paths and fishing piers are expected to be available again in time for the start of the spring fishing season.