This IBA, located in northeastern Vilas County, encompasses portions of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) and the Vilas County Forest. The site features sandy-loam uplands mixed with riparian wetlands and shorelines. The predominant vegetation is managed upland northern hardwood forest with a significant component of conifers and mixed conifer forest. There are also a number of lakes, wetlands, and shrub woodlands, and about 8% of the area is open grassland or hay fields. The southern part of this IBA includes the Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area on the National Forest. A particularly important area of lowlands occurs along Muskrat Creek and Haymeadow Creek in the western portion of the site.

Ornithological Summary

The avifauna at this site is diverse and abundant, and includes breeding assemblages of upland deciduous and mixed forests, lowland conifers, and shrub habitats. Bird species with especially high numbers in this IBA include Black-billed Cuckoo, Northern Flicker, Brown Thrasher, Least Flycatcher, Veery, Golden-winged Warbler, and Black-throated Blue Warbler. Rare species include Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Cape May Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, and Red Crossbill. Other breeders include Osprey, Bald Eagle, American Bittern, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada Warbler, and Evening Grosbeak. This area is important because it is transitional between the lakes region of north central Wisconsin and the extensive upland forests to the east. Results from the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas show it to be among the richest areas for breeding birds in the entire state (Cutright et al. 2006).

Conservation Issues

The CNNF forest plan calls for uneven-aged northern hardwood management throughout much of this site (USDA Forest Service 2004). Smaller areas are designated for early to mid-successional red and white pine and surrogate pine barrens management; some large jack pine blocks are maintained for Black-backed Woodpecker and Connecticut Warbler. There are several small Special Management Areas. Maintaining or increasing the percentage of jack pine and leaving some snags and dead trees will enhance habitat for Connecticut Warbler and Black-backed Woodpecker. Retaining pockets of young, short-needled conifers (spruce, fir) will improve habitat for Spruce Grouse. Bird of upland deciduous and mixed forests will benefit from a diversity of size and age classes, including mature, structurally complex stands, and maintenance of a conifer component.

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