This IBA encompasses a small portion of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) and adjacent state-owned lands. Topography is characterized by large depressions in a gently rolling ground moraine, extensive flat areas, and barely rolling uplands with sandy loam soils. The flat basins consist of open and forested wetlands. There are extensive areas of open muskeg dominated by sphagnum, leatherleaf, sedges, and scattered small black spruce. Along edges where more mineral-rich water may settle, there are larger black spruces and tamaracks and scattered white cedar. Some areas are dominated by sedge meadow species. The uplands are forested with managed young aspen and northern hardwoods, mostly less than 80 years in age.
This site is considered an excellent representative of the muskeg habitat type. It is large, remote, virtually undisturbed, and has intact hydrology. The site?s size and remote, intact nature makes it difficult to access for bird surveys. Nevertheless, surveys during the Breeding Bird Atlas found diverse assemblages of conifer-loving birds, including Blue-headed Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Purple Finch, and Evening Grosbeak. A 2005 breeding season visit to Lost Lake near the center of the site confirmed the presence of signature priority species associated with high-quality swamp conifer and open bog habitats, including Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Palm Warbler, and Lincoln?s Sparrow (R. Hoffman pers. comm. 2006).
The small portion of this site that falls within the CNNF is protected as Old Growth and Research Natural Area (USDA Forest Service 2004. The majority of the site is owned by the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) and cooperatively managed by BCPL and the WDNR, who holds conservation easements on a significant portion of the acreage. The site is open for public recreation but the emphasis is on preserving the area?s natural value. This arrangement should maintain the site?s intact, undisturbed character and its great value for birds. BCPL does conduct forest management in the upland portions of the site. Managing for a diversity of size and age classes and maintaining a conifer component would enhance the habitat for birds.