Accessible fishing trail reopens on the South Branch Oconto River

May 3, 2021

Forest Service


Accessible fishing trail reopens on the South Branch Oconto RiverMountain, Wis., April 30, 2021

An accessible fishing pier along the South Branch Oconto River is available again, just in time for spring fishing. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest reopened the site to the public on Thursday following winter construction to restore accessibility and improve overall conditions.

“The Forest Service is committed to expanding access to the outdoors and supporting connections to the land and nature,” said District Ranger Mike Brown. “We’re proud to offer this unique site that makes it possible for more people to enjoy the forest.”

More than 20 years ago, the forest worked with the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, local chapters of Trout Unlimited and other partners to build the quarter-mile boardwalk and series of fishing piers to provide a more accessible way to enjoy the Class I trout stream. Degradation and frost heaving in the years since introduced safety hazards.

The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization operating in Wisconsin, managed the recent construction to implement sustainable solutions for preventing frost heave and reducing soil erosion. The improvements also better support pedestrian traffic and meet accessibility design standards in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project was made possible by a stewardship contracting agreement between TNC and the Forest Service. Stewardship contracting authority, updated and made permanent in the 2014 Farm Bill, allows national forests to enter into partnerships with non-profit organizations, state and local governments, educational institutions and tribal entities to sell timber and use the proceeds of those sales to carry out projects that improve forest stand health, water quality, soil productivity and wildlife and fish habitat.

“Our national forests provide multiple benefits from wood and other forest products to clean air and water, wildlife habitat and great places to enjoy the outdoors,” said Matt Dallman, TNC’s deputy state director. “Investing in activities that improve the health and sustainability of our forests and forest economy is a win for all of us.”

Through the stewardship contracting agreement, TNC sold almost two million board feet of red pine and mixed conifer timber on 380 acres of national forest land in Forest County. In partnership with the forest, it oversaw the harvest by a local logging company. It also prepared for sale an additional 180 acres of northern hardwoods in Forest County. Both sales supported goals and objectives in the local “forest plan,” a document that provides guidance for all resource management activities on a national forest.

Using proceeds from the timber sales, TNC has been able to implement this and other restoration projects on the national forest such as trout stream improvement on Simpson Creek in Forest County. It has also worked to restore pine-oak barrens, one of the rarest forest types found in Wisconsin, to support endangered species like the Kirtland’s warbler, a small songbird that nests in young jack pine forests. The stewardship contracting agreement has also supported TNC’s efforts to improve habitat for the American Woodcock and Golden-winged Warbler by mowing mature alder-covered wetlands.

The South Branch Oconto River accessible fishing trail is located off County Highway T, between County Highway W and State Highway 64. The entrance is 2.2 miles south of Highway 64 and a few hundred feet north of the South Branch Oconto River Highway T bridge. The GPS coordinates are 45.172324,-88.618842.
About the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest covers more than 1.5 million acres of Wisconsin's Northwoods across 11 counties. Nationwide, the Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. More information is available on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest’s website at or through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect the land and water on which all life depends. To date, TNC and its more than one million members have helped protect 120 million acres worldwide. In Wisconsin, TNC has protected more than 236,000 acres of land and water since 1960. More information is available on the organization’s website at or through social media on Twitter.