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Hovel to speak at Watershed program

IRON RIVER—Joe Hovel, director of the Northwoods Alliance of northern Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula, will be the speaker for a program sponsored by the Iron County Watershed Coalition on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the West Iron District Library beginning at 6:30 p.m.
    Hovel’s will speak about the events that have led to the opportunity for permanent conservation of Wildcat Falls and the surrounding 160 acres in southern Ontonagon County, north of Watersmeet - an area that includes a trout stream, waterfalls, valuable wetlands, unique rock mounds and an impressive old growth cedar and hemlock forest.    
    In 2018, the United States Forest Service recognized Wildcat Falls as worthy of funding through its Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program.
    The project ranked fourth out of 15 in the nation, providing 50 percent of the funding to purchase and place the unique parcel into conservation with permanent public access.  
    During the program, Hovel will tell the story of how Wildcat Falls in the Ottawa National Forest was lost to a land trade in 2016 after seven years of legal appeals and attempts to block the trade.
    “It was only through opportunity and tenacity that this tragedy was reversed, and has now gained momentum towards becoming the Wildcat Falls Community Forest, resulting in the protection of a unique natural ecosystem in the U.P., responsibly managed by community members to ensure that the diverse aquatic terrestrial flora and fauna continue to thrive,” said Maggie Scheffer of the Iron County Watershed Coalition.
    The Northwoods Alliance has received support of the Wildcat Falls project from these conservation partners - Copper Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Conserve School, Friends of Sylvania Wilderness, Keweenaw Land Trust, Northwoods Native Plant Society, Partners in Forestry Cooperative, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, the Wilderness Society and many private individuals.   
    The Iron County Watershed Coalition invites its members and the public to learn more about this beneficial endeavor by attending the program. Refreshments will be served prior to the program at 6 p.m. For more information, call 906-284-7869.