The Friends and the North Pikes Creek Wetlands
In early 2012, three friends serving on the Town of Russell Plan Commission formed the Friends of the North Pikes Creek Wetlands (FNPCW) and undertook the acquisition of sensitive wetland properties in the headwaters of North Pikes Creek. This unique wetland area is located in Bayfield County, Wisconsin, near the South Shore of Lake Superior, seven miles south of the lakeshore. This collaborative community effort resulted in the acquisition of 320 acres of wetlands, and the permanent protection a diverse mix of habitats, including upland and boreal forest, beaver wetlands, shrublands, forested wetlands, and 1.6 miles of frontage along North Pikes Creek, a Class I trout stream and Wisconsin Outstanding Resource Water. A 280-acre portion of the wetlands is designated the North Pikes Creek Wetlands Community Forest, and a 40-acre portion is the new Beaver Hollow Education Area. All 320 acres are protected in perpetuity.
The shrubby and forested wetland habitat that comprise the watershed's headwaters are important for migratory and breeding birds, including 40 priority species such as the Golden-winged Warbler, American Bittern, and American Woodcock. The wetlands also support populations of seven species of bats, one of which is both a state and federally listed threatened species. One mile south of the protected headwater properties, North Pikes Creek, a Class I trout stream, flows into the 1,400-acre WDNR-owned South Shore Lake Superior Fish and Wildlife Area, which is an important nursery for coho and Chinook salmon, and steelhead, rainbow, brown, and brook trout. The headwater wetlands of North Pikes Creek serve to protect this river corridor that flows into Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay near the Les Voigt Fish Hatchery on Highway 13. Nearly 50% of Wisconsin wetlands have been lost, thus, making the conservation of those that remain a priority.
The protected North Pikes Creek Wetland's properties can also be a beneficial resource for our community and the greater region, and once safe access is provided, can be utilized for a variety of recreational and educational activities:
- Educational programs for school and youth groups
- Adult educational programs and field trips
- Bird watching
- Wildlife viewing
- Nature appreciation
- Cross country skiing
Planned enhancements to the property-- the addition of a parking area and an accessible boardwalk-- will improve site access to allow the public to readily engage in these recreational and educational activities.
Our livelihood is intimately tied to the food we eat, water we drink and places where we recreate. That's why we have to promote responsibility and conservation when it comes to our natural resources.
~ Mark Udall