Public meetings set for Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands Ecological Landscape regional master plans

[EDITOR’S ADVISORY: These meetings have been rescheduled due to a forecast for inclement weather. The Ashland meeting will be April 24 and the Spooner meeting will be held April 25. The public comment period has been extended to May 3. ]

Public comment period open through May 3

ASHLAND, Wis. — The public will has an opportunity through two upcoming open houses and online information to learn more about the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s regional master planning process for properties located in three Northwest Wisconsin Ecological Landscapes: Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands. The three landscapes fall in portions of Polk, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, and Iron Counties.

Copper Falls State Park is one of the properties included in the master planning process for the ecological landscape. - Photo credit: DNR
Copper Falls State Park is one of the properties included in the master planning process for the Northwest Wisconsin ecological landscape.Photo credit: DNR

A master plan, guided by Chapter NR 44, Wisconsin Administrative Code, establishes the level and type of resource management and public use permitted on department-managed properties. Under the regional master planning process, department staff will develop a plan for all properties located within a defined region. The regions are based on 16 previously defined ecological landscapes in Wisconsin, areas with similar ecological attributes and management opportunities. The Natural Resources Board approved the regional planning process at the June 2017 board meeting.

Properties within these three ecological landscapes regions with Chapter NR 44, Wisconsin Administrative Code compliant existing master plans will have their existing plans referenced during the planning process. Approximately 30,000 acres of DNR-managed lands will have new master plans developed. These lands contain a wide-variety of habitats and characteristics. These attributes and include the Apostle Islands and Lake Superior coastal estuaries, cold water streams and spring ponds, and barrens.

The properties in these ecological landscapes are also important in providing recreation opportunity. The popular Copper Falls, Big Bay, Pattison, and Amnicon Falls State Parks will all have master plans developed. A number of properties that provide fishing and hunting opportunities such as the South Shore Lake Superior Fishery Area and Beaver Brook Wildlife Area will also have new plans developed.

People can learn more about and engage in the planning processes for Superior Coastal Plain, Northwest Sands, and Northwest Lowlands regional master plans process online by searching the DNR website,, for keywords “master planning” and selecting the ecological landscape they would like to learn about. In addition to opportunities to learn more about the ecological landscapes and department properties within them; people will also find opportunities to offer their input on the planning and management of the properties.

Two public meetings will be held in early April for the public to learn more about the planning process and to submit comments on the properties’ future management and use. Both meetings run from 5 to 7 p.m. and will be held (NOTE: these meetings have been rescheduled):

  • Tuesday, April 24, Ashland: Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center; 29270 County Highway G
  • Wednesday, April 25, Spooner: DNR Service Center, 810 W Maple St.

“People are welcome and encouraged to visit our websites and attend the public meetings to learn about the department’s property master planning process and to share their suggestions for future management and use of these properties,” said Diane Brusoe, property planning section chief.

In addition to the opportunities to offer input online or at public meetings, people may contact Phil Rynish, DNR planner, by email at, phone at 608-266-5854, or US mail at, Wisconsin DNR, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI, 53707-7921.

The public comment period for the first phase of planning is open through May 3, 2018.