An introduction to the forest and it’s history

May 31, 2007 at 7:32 pm (environmental, philosophy, political, shamanism)


The “chwam” as it is referred to locally is 1,519,800 acres of old and second growth forest in northern Wisconsin, and is part of the Upper Great lakes Keystone
Forest a.k.a., “the Northwoods”.  It is composed of several different ecosystems; uplands, bogs, wetlands, muskegs, rivers, streams, pine savannas, meadow and glacial lakes, black spruce bogs, cedar swamps and alder thickets.  It is home to a plethora of flora and fauna.  In the tree category there are 3 different kinds of maple, 3 different kinds of oak, aspen, beech basswood, sumac, 3 different kinds of birch, 3 different pine, white spruce and balsam fir and the forest is the eastern most range for the eastern hemlock.  Among smaller flora there are blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, service berries ferns, mosses, cattails, mushrooms, the list goes on.  Animals that inhabit this area are white tail deer, black bears, foxes, raccoons, rabbits, beavers, otters, squirrels, chipmunks, timber wolves, elk, moose, coyotes, badgers, wolverines and lynx.  Birds that dwell here are pheasants, grouse, wild turkey, northern cardinals, blue jays, American crows, American robins, red tailed hawks, red wing blackbird, owls, ducks, loons, bald eagles, thrush, sparrows and warblers.  Populating the waters of this primeval paradise are brook trout, rainbow trout and brown trout, walleye, small and large mouth bass, crappie, northern pike and several species of pan fish.  Those you familiar with the endangered species list will recognize a few threatened creatures amongst the ones I have just mentioned.  The forest is amazing. You have not lived until you’ve camped out on a spring night here and listened to the sound of grouse thumping to attracted mates, the sometimes deafening sound of spring peepers, the eerie laughing of loons in the middle of the night and early morning and seen the night sky look like a million diamonds radiating on black/purple velvet. There is no feeling in the world like watching the sunset over a pristine glacial lake deep in a pine forest and knowing you’re the only human and vestige of “society” for miles around, feeling the unmistakable presence of a wolf watching you, or the sight of two yearling deer frolicking, totally unafraid and uninhibited, or watching the Aurora Borealis on a –30F night in the dead of winter, when it’s so cold the snow crystallizes and it looks as if the whole earth and sky are covered in diamonds.  Words do not do the experience justice.
  The human history of the forest is an interesting study, it has a deep dark and sadly still very relevant past.  The area was severely over logged by the end of the 19th century by the lumber and mining barons who founded this area.   During the days of prohibition it was also home to many mobsters including Al Capone. One of the most prominent cities in the area at the time, Hurley, which was and is a mining town, was a hotbed of crime including forced prostitution, trafficking and murder.    I have stayed in the apartments above the old clubs where this stuff went on and the area defines the word haunted.  I have a theory about such things, issues in the present often have deep roots in the past, old injustices or cover-ups that people forget about.  Thing is the land and the spirits of our ancestors that dwell on the energies of the land do not forget.  It is plagued by the lingering energies of past crimes, dooming itself to have the same injustices and wrongs repeated until someone figures it out and stops it.  Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.  When the land became useless to those exploiting it, it was sold off to poor immigrants hoping to farm it.   Well Northwoods soil is not meant for farming as anyone who lives here can attest to and these poor people found it out the hard way.  They ended up going bankrupt and selling their land to the federal government.  In March of 1933 Herbert Hoover established the Nicolet
National forest and soon after in November of that year FDR established the Chequamegon National Forest. It was combined and managed as one in 1993.   Chequamegon is an Ojibway word meaning place of shallow water, and Nicolet is after Jean Nicolet a French explorer and fur trader who came to great lakes area in the 1600’s.  The Civilian Conservation Corps came through in the 1930’s and replanted the land with native trees and a lot of the forest is second growth from that planting effort. However, under the loosening of restrictions and undermining of environmental law by the Bush administration, severe mismanagement by the Forest Service, and some severely underhanded maneuvering by corporations (corporations that also have deep roots in the past) the CNNF faces many diverse but fundamentally linked critical threats. For your perusal I have included a link to the forestry service’s plan for the CNNF.



  1. Tony said,

    I find your wide-sweeping statement of the Forest Service’s severe mismanagement misguided and uninformed. You have presented all the beauties and wonders that the forest has to offer, but do nothing to substantiate your “mismanagement” claim. I guess that’s the beauty of the First Amendment…you can say whatever you want (as long as it’s not slanderous) and not have to “back it up.” I’ll chalk this up to another person just spouting off because they have nothing better to do.

  2. etheria888 said,

    Forgive me if i have not backed up my claim of mismanagement, I thought it was obvious. I say mismanagement because in comparison to what it used to be, the land that the Native Americans lived on sustainably and venerated for generations, it is but a small severely beaten remnant (which might I add is the same for the Native peoples of this land, to whom this land should return) You need to study history, badly. I am not just another person who has nothing better to do, I am a person who deeply cares for the world I live in, the humans, the animals, the trees, the fish, everything, and as such I write because I feel it is something I can do to help make a positive difference. Make no mistake, I am a nobody, I am the humblest most inconsequential thing, but no matter how small you are you can still try to make a difference. We each have the power to change anything, and it is our birthright to be free and happy. The truth is that as much as people may defend this way of life that requires deforestation and pollution, most are not happy. I work to change that, what do you work for?

  3. etheria888 said,

    It should also be noted that this arcticle is one ina series, the next entry, “logging” deals with the claims of mismanagement, and they are quite substantiated there. I should have made that more clear I guess.

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