Van Vliet Hemlocks - Board of Directors
Current Board Members
Tom Olson, President
Phil Sobocinski, Vice President
Al Drum, Secretary
Eric Benn, Treasurer
Ed Brodsky, Member
Bob Berdan Member
Allen Eschenbauch, Member
Bob Horswill, Member
Licia Johnson, Member
Sarah Johnson, Member
Richard Phillips, Member
Jenna Richardson, Member
Zach Wilson, Member
John Heusinkveld, Rep. for NLDC
Ronie Jacobsen, Rep. for VVLA
Original Board Members
Board Meeting Highlights
May 4, 2022 - Regular Meeting
- The Treasury is solid, and represents sixty members
- Hemp nettle infestation requires that Sugar Bush trail remain closed to public use for the indefinite future
- President Tom Olson has contacted DNR Secretary Preston Cole requesting that Secretary Cole prepare Articles of Dedication on behalf of Hemlocks for further security of the property
- The new NLDC building renovation is in operation; further construction is to follow this year, doubling the footprint of the existing structure; Hemlocks and the NLDC have a lasting and productive relationship.
- Educational programs in Hemlocks continue strongly and enthusiastically
- A comprehensive sign replacement for Hemlocks trail systems has been completed
- The Hemlocks website is under consideration for redesign
- The Hemlocks Annual Meeting is scheduled for August 7, 2022, 4:00 P.M.--Location to be announced
- The Hemlocks Board of Directors will be expanded to thirteen regular Board members, increasing by three from ten to thirteen regular members; the two charter members bring the total Board membership to fifteen.
Aug 10, 2022 - Regular Meeting
- Hemp Nettle eradication efforts carried out this year in areas other than the Sugarbush Trail look fruitful; more will follow next year
- Six Directors with expiring terms were re-elected for new terms: Phil Sobocinski, Vice President; Bob Berdan, Director; Bob Horswill, Director; Al Eschenbauch, Director; Licia Kuckkahn Johnson, Director; Sarah Johnson, Director.
- Three new Directors were added to the Board, bringing the Board total to thirteen members: Richard Phillips; Zach Wilson; Jenna Richardson
- The Hemlocks website is undergoing a face lifting initiative, led by Samantha Wolter of the NLDC staff, and aided by Ronie Jacobsen and Sarah Johnson.
- The Hemlocks is financially healthy with a strong membership base
September 23, 2021 - Annual Meeting
- Officers and Directors were re-elected as follows: Tom Olson, President; Al Drum, Secretary; Eric Benn, Treasurer; Ed Brodsky, Director
- Activities as follows: VVH flora hike and VVH fall hike in September and October of 2020; February 2021 snowshoe hike; high school geology hike and bird fest hike in June, 2021; canoe trip in August, 2021; mid-September forest and soil lore hike, information on plants and fungus, wildlife and predator/prey activity and forest decomposition. In the future, a late September 2021 women’s Sunday morning session, an early October hike, and a future February 2022 snowshoe trek are planned.
- NLDC construction includes a geothermal heating system for the new building, offices where the showers used to be, and improved housing cabins complete with new washrooms. A new nature center is coming.
- Rachael has joined NLDC staff, and is a skilled personnel professional as well as a fine naturalist
- The Hemlocks is financially healthy with a strong membership base
- Carly Lapin, Regional Ecologist, DNR, reports that physical hand cutting by weed-eater effectively removes hemp nettle and seems overall to be superior to chemical eradication. Sugarbush Trail is heavily infested with hemp nettle, and must remain closed to summer traffic indefinitely.
- Sugarbush Trail may be able to sustain foot traffic in the winter when hemp nettle cannot be spread; signage needs to be changed to alert users that warm weather use of Sugarbush Trail is prohibited, but that perhaps winter use is okay
May 17, 2021 - Regular Meeting
- Hemlocks had a net income of $2547.16 for the year ending 3/31/21, providing a robust balance. A total of thirty memberships was recorded.
- Hemp nettle infestation on Sugarbush is uncontrollable at present, requiring trail closure for the foreseeable future.
- Bob Horswill welcomes any volunteers to help in hand removal of other controllable nettle patches.
- There may be opportunity for chainsaw certification classes for trail maintenance volunteers
- Trail signage on both the west and east trail systems has been significantly improved.
- Programs in Hemlocks are planned for perhaps six to ten outings this year.
- The Discovery Center building renovation and expansion project is proceeding; additional funding is being sought.
- Four board members having expiring terms this year are willing to serve an additional term: Tom Olson (President); Eric Benn (Treasurer); Al Drum (Secretary); Ed Brodsky (Board Member).
- The 2021 Hemlocks Annual Meeting will be held at the Pipke Park pavilion on August 15, 2021, 4:00 P.M., picnic included
August 16, 2020 - Annual Meeting
- Hemlocks recent bylaws changes now do not require a quorum to be present for any board meeting.
- Hemlocks bylaws now provide for up to ten regular board members and two special board members (totaling twelve members); previously, the bylaws specified up to seven regular members and three special members (totaling ten members).
- Three existing regular board members were elected to continue serving, beginning a new term:Phil Sobocinski, Vice President; Bob Horswill, Regular Member; Bob Berdan, Regular Member. Two individuals new to the board were elected to the board as Regular Members: Sarah Johnson; Licia Johnson.
One individual was elected to switch from Special Member to Regular Member: Al Eschenbauch. The Hemlocks Board now consists of ten Regular Members, and two Special Members representing charter organizations, for a total of twelve members.
- Three adult hikes and one school hike were held last fiscal year; yet to come this year are three adult hikes and one school hike.
- Hemp nettle treatment was conducted this fiscal year by DNR personnel, overseen by Carly Lapin, Regional Ecologist, using mechanical means and not chemical treatments; the DNR crew applied 185 person-hours.
- Mechanical hemp nettle removal is now the preferred method; in future, mechanical removal contractors may be needed, with financial support from Hemlocks
- The team of Carly Lapin and Bob Horswill will formulate future invasive treatments
- The Board will soon tackle a comprehensive Hemlocks signage review and improvement program.
- Trail usage by visitors seems quite vigorous recently
- Lake and lakeshore programs should be considered for Hemlocks public programs
- As the towns nearby to Hemlocks property begin to consider initiatives proposed for ATV trail and route development, Hemlocks may need to evaluate impacts on the Hemlocks trail users as they pursue quietude.
August 7, 2020 - Regular Meeting
- The Board voted to approve the amendment to the Code of Regulations to increase the size of the Board by two members.
- The Board approved the agenda for the Annual Meeting which will be held August 16, 2020 at 3 p.m. at the outdoor pavilion near the Presque Isle town offices and library. Social distance will be maintained and it will be a business meeting only.
May 13, 2020 - Regular Meeting
- Eric Benn has joined the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Van Vliet Hemlocks, and will assume also the duties of Treasurer.
- Postponements are necessary for activities such as school hikes and naturalist sessions because of the coronavirus.
- The annual meeting in 2020 will be held at an as-yet undetermined location, instead of Olson’s Point.
- DNR will establish chainsaw training for trail maintenance volunteers in the future.
- The Hemlocks treasury is healthy.
- The Discovery Center has installed coronavirus safety measures, kept all staff at full time work mostly at home, and has received Federal Payroll Protection funding through June.
- Discovery Center staff also are stepping up efforts to identify grant funding for the Center.
- Discovery Center will employ six interns this summer on a schedule that postpones interaction with the public until coronavirus threats have been reduced.
- The hemp nettle eradication in 2020 will proceed with hand cutting only, with no chemicals to be applied. DNR personnel will do the work when deemed suitably safe from coronavirus exposure
- Sugarbush trail will be closed for 2020 as a followup to hemp nettle eradication.
- Road signs with rustic appearance will be provided by the DNR to offer directions for visitors accessing Hemlocks trails.
- Hemlocks sponsored three adult trail hikes and one grade school hike last year. For 2020, three adult hikes are planned tentatively.
- The Hemlocks board is considering adding two members to the current ten-member board to bring the total board membership to twelve members.
August 18, 2019 - Annual Meeting
- One school hike is planned, for Arbor Vitae fifth grade, at a cost of $500; three additional hikes are planned, the first by Discovery Center, the second set for a winter snow hike, and a third as a tree hike with John Schwartzman; cost will be $200 per hike
- A total of 34 contributors has been tallied so far this year; the treasury is healthy
- Carly Lapin is Hemlocks' SNA Coordinator; there are 691 SNA's, totaling 400,000 acres, in Wisconsin; Hemlocks is one of only six total Wisconsin “Friends” groups that is also an SNA
- NLDC will pursue more citizen science projects in the future
- Hemlocks adjacent property is a 1200 acre Forest Legacy Program property, on which there can only be sustainable logging in the future, but no development
- Officers and Board Members were elected unanimously for new terms as follows: Tom Olson, President; Glenn Doering, Treasurer; Al Drum, Secretary; Ed Brodsky, Board Member
- Hemp nettle eradication this summer was successful, with 18 acres treated chemically and 68 acres of nettle removal by hand mechanical means; next year may find only mechanical removal attempted
- Hemlocks may work with Presque Isle committees and organizations to improve locational signage for Hemlocks trail heads
May 21, 2019 - Regular Board of Directors Meeting
- Hemlocks treasury cash balance is healthy and sufficient to support desired activities
- Hemp nettle eradication continues, and Sugarbush Trail may remain closed for one more year;
Bob Horswill reported that nettle control activities have reduced infestations by 75% to 90%
- A sum of $1600.00 was authorized earlier this year by the Hemlocks board for continued hemp nettle control
- Hemlocks is pursuing agreements with DNR regarding the Friends' continued scheduled programming and trail maintenance activities
- Scheduled hikes last year included three for adults and a fourth event for Phelps school students. There will be upcoming adult events in the fall and into early 2020, and in addition, a hoped-for event led by John Bates and an additional tree hike by a host to be announced later.
- The Carlin water legal challenge proceeds slowly, with some positive signs
- A moth collection event will take place in July of 2019, led by Eric Olson.
- Terms are expiring this year for Tom Olson, Glenn Doering, Al Drum and Ed Brodsky.
- Trail signs will be surveyed for condition, and cleaned or replaced as needed.
- Tom will write and distribute a membership letter.
- The annual Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, August 18, 2019, at Olsons' Point, 3:30 P.M.
August 26, 2018 - Annual Meeting
- One Hemlocks Board officers' position and two board member positions were voted and approved: Phil Sobocinski, Vice President; Bob Horswill and Bob Berdan, Board Members.
- Tom Olson introduced Carly Lapin (WDNR) who presented her report and map on the hemp nettle eradication efforts. Friends had agreed to pay $1600 for herbicide spraying by a contractor which was very successful. Additional spraying, hand pulling, and cutting efforts were carried out by WDNR staff. Carly recommended that the Friends plan on the same level of financial commitment for next year since the plant can persist in the seed bank and it may take multiple years to significantly reduce the population.
- Membership numbers and dollars are down from last year but our fiscal year does not end until September 30 so there is still time for additional donations. Expenses included the hemp nettle spraying, three student and two adult hikes, and some costs associated with mailings and the annual meeting.
- Field trips for Land O’Lakes SOAR charter school and MHLT Creative Minds charter school took place last October. The North Lakeland 6th graders visited in May. The Phelps middle school will be coming this October.
- Adult hikes included the bog hike led by Susan Knight last August and NLDC led hikes in October and February. Future adult programs include a fall hike on October 13, a geology hike on November 3, and a snowshoe hike on February 9, 2019.
- Tom reported that a more formalized written volunteer agreement will be needed as our group transitions to working with different WDNR staff.
May 22, 2018 - Regular Board of Directors Meeting
- Hemlocks financial operations between 2017 and 2018 produced a near break-even
- Department of Natural Resources (DNR) management realignment has resulted in the following six positions and involved staff personnel:
- Property Manager, NHAL, Craig Dalton
- Recreational Supervisor, NHAL, Sara Pearson; Assistant Recreational Supervisor, Joe Fieweger
- Trails Coordinator, NHAL, Tony Martinez
- Woodruff Area Supervisor for NHAL Law Enforcement, Dave Walz
- Forestry Supervisor, NHAL, Tom Shockley
- Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation Field Ecologist and State Natural Are Operative, Carli Lapin
- A written “volunteer agreement” must be executed between DNR and Hemlocks for individuals doing field work on Hemlocks trails
- A written “land use agreement” must also be executed between Hemlocks and DNR at a later date following execution of the “volunteer agreement”
- The invasive species “hemp nettle” is undergoing eradication at this time
- The Board voted to allocate $2000 for programs scheduled in Hemlocks for public users
- An initial biotic inventory has been completed for Hemlocks by our summer intern
- Phil Sobocinski has agreed to continue on the Hemlocks Board; Larry Gorrilla has decided not to continue at the expiration of his current term. The Board thanks Larry for his many years of service to the Board
- Citizen Science will become a focus for both Hemlocks and Discovery in the near future
August 27, 2017 - Annual Meeting
- Tom Olson introduced Carly Lapin, Environmentalist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Property Manager of Van Vliet Hemlocks plus nineteen additional SNA's
- Heidi Putnam, summer intern, is working on a biotic inventory for Hemlocks and other study features
- Hemp nettle infestation is present in Hemlocks and must be removed; removal efforts are difficult
- Three Hemlocks Board officers' positions, and one board member position, were voted and approved: Tom Olson, President; Glenn Doering, Treasurer; Al Drum, Secretary; Ed Brodsky, Board Member
- Annual Hemlocks revenues and non-recurring costs generally balance to a break-even at year's end
- An inventory of invasives in Hemlocks totals at least one dozen species. Hemp nettle is the major invasive at this time
- Meeting participants voted to send an official Hemlocks letter of appreciation to Steve Peterson, who is retiring from his position as Superintendent of the Northern Highlands-American Legion State Forest
- Meeting participants also voted to install a boot brush at the western trail head, accompanied by a sign
May 25, 2017 - Regular Board of Directors Meeting
- In the Treasurer's Report, Glenn Doering reported that Hemlocks membership continues to grow; also, Annie Mc Dowell is financial manager of North Lakeland Discovery Center (Discovery).
- Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest (NHAL) -Steve Petersen
- Summer interns supported by National Heritage Organization will study turtles and nettles, incorporating biotic inventories. Heidi Putnam will do work in Hemlocks.
- Steve stated that he will leave the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in mid-August, and will work in real estate. Heather Berklund will be the new Hemlocks DNR contact. Steve's successor, not yet named, will begin likely in January, 2018, but no longer with the title of Superintendent, assuming instead the title of property manager.
- The DNR will pay to apply chip-seal on East Van Vliet Road in 2018.
- Invasive Species-Bob Horswill
- Hemp nettle has infested the northeast corner of East Hemlocks.
- Japanese Knotweed and garlic mustard are present in Presque Isle.
- The Board voted to purchase a boot brush for the west trail trailhead.
- President's Report-Tom Olson
- Following an update of the Carlin Lake shoreland water removal legal action, the
- Board voted to donate $500.00 to the Carlin Lake Association for legal costs.
- Discovery trips include a February snowshoe outing, sixth grader hike, fall October color hike, charter school Minocqua trip
- Nate Breitholtz is the new contact for North Lakeland Elementary School sessions
- Other sessions may include a summer bog walk hosted by Susan Knight
- Terms for members Tom Olson, Al Drum, and Ed Brodsky are nearing expiration. All three members agree to continue.
- In future activities, invasive species will be addressed, trail maintenance and signage improvement efforts will take place, the Board will meet and greet Heidi Putnam, and a new era will begin as the NHAL leadership undergoes change. Thanks to Steve Petersen for a great relationship.
- Tom will write a member letter.
- The Annual Meeting will be held at Olson's Point on Sunday, August 27, 2017, 2:30 P.M.
August 28, 2016 - Annual Meeting
- Three Board Members were reelected to new terms: Ed Sobocinski; Bob Horswill; Larry Gorrilla.
- In the Treasurer's Report, Glenn Doering reported that Hemlocks membership has grown to over 50 contributors.
- In the President's Report, Tom Olson offered the following points:
- Hemlocks public program hosted by Naturalist Licia Johnson on September 14, 2016
- Hemlocks brochure, revised edition, will be out soon.
- Hemlocks public program hosted by Elmo Rawlings on October 8, 2016
- Surveys of bat populations on Van Vliet Lake indicate a decline in numbers
- In the report by Steve Petersen, Superintendent of Northern Highlands-American Legion State Forest (NHAL), Superintendent Petersen offered the following information:
- Joe Fieweger is the new Supervisor of Recreation for NHAL.
- Attendance at nearby Big Lake Campground has doubled in 2016 compared with 2015, as a result of improvements in campground reservation procedures.
- Steve suggested that people interested in DNR land sales can check the DNR website for information on land sale auctions.
- Steve responded to a question regarding ATV introduction onto NHAL trails by stating that ATV enthusiast groups continue to request trails in the state forest. Also, DNR currently is analyzing potential expanded usage of over 1000 miles of existing NHAL mapped roads.
June 27, 2016 - Regular Board of Directors Meeting
- There is a geology program, beginning with a discussion at 8:30 A.M. on Saturday, October 8, 2016, at the Presque Isle library, followed by a field trip to Hemlocks. Professor Elmo Rawling is the presenter.
- An additional trip is being planned for Hemlock tree core removal and further study, to be led by a UW Plattville professor. No date or time has yet been established.
- Natural Resources Foundation field trip is scheduled for August 6, 2016, from 9:00 A.M. until noon.
- Board members agreeing to continue serving are Phil Sobocinski, Larry Gorrilla, Bob Horswill
- The Hemlocks Annual Meeting is scheduled for August 28, 2016, at 3:00 P.M. at Olson's point. Bring a dish to pass.
- The Discovery website is being revamped, and will be active soon.
- A hemp nettle pull is scheduled for 10:00 A.M., July 14, 2016, east side trailhead.
- Board members are considering creating a watercraft landing station on the east trail.
- DNR may introduce changes to the management scope of some DNR departments.
- DNR is studying changes to the Master Plan that might designate certain forest roads as motorized. Public input will be required.
October 5, 2015 - Special Planning Meeting
In reviewing the purpose of Van Vliet Hemlocks, members noted that our relationship with Discovery Center is vital, that the terms “old growth” and “unique ecology” belong in our stated Purpose article, and that Hemlocks should seek large dollar donors in order to try to add to the acreage totals of the Hemlocks initiative
- Trail signage markings were improved last fall, and will continue to be updated, to include possibly the QR phone technology. We will not place signage on roads advertising Hemlocks.
- Future expansion of Hemlocks trails will always be a consideration, possibly to include a kayak pull-out.
- Hemlocks established funding for a new three-year trail event schedule, as follows:
- Two school group visits per year will be funded, for a total of $1000 each year, with a per-event maximum of $500
- Three adult programs per year will be funded, for a total of $600 each year, with a per-event maximum of $200
- The above program is expected to operate for the years of 2016, 2017 and 2018, to be reviewed early in the year of 2019.
- Historian Jim Bokern will be invited to present a field trip featuring original public land surveying detail, for the Hemlocks board, Discovery staff, and others
- Hemlocks is the type of old growth organization featured on a national website, which can be viewed at www.oldgrowthforest.net
August 30, 2015 - Fifth Annual Meeting
- Election of officers: President Tom Olson, Treasurer Glenn Doering, Secretary Al Drum, and At Large Ed Brodsky were unanimously reelected to their positions.
- Glenn Doering reported membership of 38 families and a net increase in funds of $2500.
- Tom Olson reported that primary activities moving forward will be trail maintenance, sponsoring school field trips, sponsoring general hikes, and ordering updated brochures.
- Steve Petersen reported that the SNA status of the Hemlocks protects it from new state rules about increasing forest production areas but that vigilance by an advocate group is also important.
- Jim Bokern discussed the need to create an education piece for the survey markers and witness trees that have been located on the property.
May 14, 2015 - Regular Board of Directors Meeting
- School trips for North Lakeland Elementary School and Mercer schools were scheduled for the spring of 2015
- North Lakeland Discovery Center conducted successful snowshoe walks and bird observation walks
- Mushroom walks in Hemlocks will be scheduled
- The Annual Meeting is scheduled for August 30, 2015
- Four Board members whose terms are expiring are willing to continue on the Board: Tom Olson; Glenn Doering; Al Drum; Ed Brodsky. Charter Members who will continue are as follows: Azael Meza, North Lakeland Discovery Center; Al Eschenbauch, Last Wilderness Conservation Association; Ronie Jacobsen, Van Vliet Lake Association.
- Future activities will focus on historian Jim Bokern and early public land survey documentation, invasive species control, trail maintenance.
- Steve Petersen, Superintendent, Northern Highlands-American Legion State Forest, discussed the following topics:
- School trips in Hemlocks are a fine use of the Hemlocks resources
- Television exposure to Hemlocks trails and activities would be good
- Efforts are underway to increase attendance at Big Lake Campground
- Trail signage practices from other states can improve Hemlocks signage
- Regular documented trail inspections by volunteers should be conducted; the volunteers thereby relieve DNR personnel from some of their workload
October 13, 2014 - Regular Board of Directors Meeting
- Trail signs will undergo revamping
- Sponsoring trips to Hemlocks by school kids is a part of Hemlocks' obligation and agenda. The Board allocated a sum of $1200 annually to support schoolchildren visits to Hemlocks.
- Hemlocks' finances are in solid shape. Revenues increased in 2014, with a total of 36 contributors for that year. Expenses remain moderate, increasing net income.
- Expansion of Hemlocks land holdings is a worthy goal for the future; however, at present, none of the known several potential opportunities for expansion seem likely.
- Hikes to study mushrooms, to remove hemp nettles, and possibly to observe reenactments of the original Public Lands Survey System surveyors are being planned.
- Volunteers are encouraged to participate in Hemlocks trail maintenance and in activities sponsored by Discovery Center.
- Historian Jim Bokern would appreciate information on local area artifacts known by area residents; artifacts still in place should be left remaining where they lie, but Jim would appreciate knowing their whereabouts.
August 24, 2014 - Fourth Annual Meeting
- The membership approved the slate of candidates to continue serving on the Hemlocks Board of Directors, as follows: Phil Sobocinski, Vice President; Larry Gorrilla, Board member; Bob Horswill, Board member
- Heard President Tom Olson as he listed the last year's events: John Bates Hike sponsored by Van Vliet Lake Association, snowshoe event, Colleen Matula hike, new boardwalk built by NHAL, Discovery Center bird hikes, bat surveys
- Enjoyed a presentation by Historian Jim Bokern as he discussed cultural development in regions like Hemlocks, including logging, early public surveyors, Native American maple syrup collection
- Heard Bob Horswill's concerns regarding Hemp nettle and the possibility of a working hike to remove nettles
May 15, 2014 - Regular Board of Directors Meeting
- From the end of the fiscal year October 31, 2013, until May, 2014, Hemlocks has received revenues of $500.00, has had expenses of $369.77, and has total Liabilities & Equity of $8094.72.
- Initiated preparation of a trail maintenance and pruning schedule, to be carried out later this year
- Decided not to pursue access to Hemlocks from Crab Lake Road
- Decided to pursue dust control on East Van Vliet Road
- Decided to leave existing signs in place that show BCPL as sponsor; small explanatory signs likely will be added to larger signs explaining new ownership by DNR
- Decided to remove metal trail markers and instead use paint on trees to mark trails
- Non-native plant species in Hemlocks will be surveyed and delineated with the help of professionals
- Initiated the installation of Picture-Posts, which are camera stations containing a camera platform and eight points of the compass for photos to simulate time lapse photography of features evolving in nature. Photos will be posted on the internet. Any photographer may participate.
- Committed funds to support programs for children this year in Hemlocks
October 1, 2013 - Regular Board of Directors Meeting
- End of fiscal year (September 30, 2013) checking account balance is $8081.29. Contributions for 2013 (revenues) were $2600.
- Hemlocks is considering installing boardwalks for bogs
- Historian Jim Bokern will host a walk and talk at Hemlocks on October 5, 2013
- Programs for area schools will be developed
- Hemlocks' status as a State Natural Area, and the possible application of passive management within Hemlocks, will be subject to a vote by the Natural Resources Board on October 23, 2013
- Superintendent Steve Petersen, Northern Highlands/American Legion State Forest, suggests that Hemlocks focus on these three activities:
- Maintain trails, invasives
- Provide education/field trips
- Other SNA involvements
- The Hemlocks Board will debate at future meetings the wisdom of extending our focus to other geographic areas, and forests and groups
- Board members brainstormed and suggested the following topics for future discussion:
- Perhaps Hemlocks should be our primary and singular focus
- Do we know how many visitors we have? Do we need a visitors' log?
- Trail markers need improvement
- Expert input from professionals like Steve Petersen and Randy Hoffman will be sought as we formulate the future directions for Hemlocks
August 25, 2013 - Third Annual Meeting
- Meeting was preceded by a pontoon and kayak outing for attendees to view the unspoiled shoreline of the Van Vliet Hemlocks.
- Our next scheduled event will be a talk by historian and teacher Jim Bokern discussing prehistoric and historic cultural resources in the Presque Isle area and the possibility of creating a cultural education component for the Hemlocks property.
- The DNR received many comments during the public input phase of the Master Plan Amendment including strong support for SNA status and passive management of the Van Vliet Hemlocks. The Natural Resources Board is expected to vote on the final version of the amendment in October.
- Accomplishments of the past year include funding a field trip for North Lakeland students, installing a new sign on the Hemlock Lake Loop, and actively advocating for the property and raising public awareness about the DNR proposal.
July 26, 2013
- Those present voted unanimously to recommend to the entire Board that membership in both the Presque Isle Chamber and the Manitowish Waters Chamber be continued for this year.
- Tom reported that Jim Bokern will be ready to make a presentation sometime in the latter part of September. We agreed to recommend that the presentation be done at the Presque Isle Community Center.
- We agreed to recommend a planning session sometime in September to determine what our focus will be for the coming year.
- Annual Meeting will be conducted as part of the picnic following the field trip on August 25 Olson’s Point. There will be elections, a brief report on the Master Plan efforts, other activities this year, and a report from DNR.
- There was a general discussion of NHAL Master Plan Amendment activities to date. The public meeting at Presque Isle seemed to go well with good discussions with DNR staff and Board member. We are getting good support from local groups and individuals.
July 17, 2013
- The agenda of this special board meeting was limited to a discussion of our efforts to assure the continuation of the management of Van Vliet Hemlocks as a state natural area and our goal of attaining formal “State Natural Area” designation by DNR in the context of the Amendment to the Master Plan for the NHAL.
- Steve Petersen informed the group that an Open House was being held at the Presque Isle Town Hall on Wednesday, July 24 from 3-7pm at which time comments on the NHAL Master Plan Draft Amendment could be shared. He indicated that the WDNR wants public comment to guide the final stages of the plan.
- After review and discussion related to the NHAL’s Master Plan as it relates to the Van Vliet Hemlocks, a motion by Larry Gorilla was made that we support the Draft Plan’s continued recognition and ensuing action for establishment of the Van Vliet Hemlocks as a State Natural Area, and that we counter the pieces in the plan that include potential prescriptions for active management, instead encouraging all-site passive management. Motion seconded by Glenn Doering. All approved.
- Comments can be submitted online, snail mail, and at the open house on 7/24. Individual friends members are encouraged to respond as individuals. The Friends organization will draft a letter and present it at the open house as well as submit via direct mail.
- Friends members and other individuals and groups in the area will be contacted via email and encouraged to respond.
May 8, 2013
- Phil Sobicinski was installed as Vice President.
- Planned a combined Annual Members Meeting and Kayak/Pontoon Boat tour of Van Vliet Lake scheduled for August 25, 2013, including possibly an accompanying Discovery Center naturalist.
- Planned a trail event in Hemlocks to be held in October or November and featuring Naturalist Jim Bokern.
- Acknowledged that the “Hemlocks to Hides” trail entrance sign will be delivered later on May 8.
- Acknowledged that the ownership gap between West Van Vliet Road and the Hemlocks property line has been eliminated.
- Scheduled chainsaw training for volunteers for May 29, 2013
- Made plans to encourage board members, regular members, supporters and any other interested citizens to support the State Natural Area (SNA) status of the Hemlocks. This support can be exercised by writing thoughts on a DNR comment sheet and sending to Bob Dall of WDNR. In addition, public meeting periods will be scheduled for citizen face to face discussions with DNR personnel. This process will continue until October or November of 2013.
- Scheduled a trip in Hemlocks for North Lakeland Elementary School students for May 24
December 13, 2012
- The Board approved a revised Code of Regulations. The revised code (1) Acknowledged the new owner of Hemlocks, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and (2) Increased the membership of the Board from eight members to ten members, and (3) Added the position of vice-president.
- Three new Board members were appointed (one new member to replace Paul Specht, and two new members authorized by the revised Code of Regulations.) The three new members are Larry Gorrilla, Glenn Doering and Phil Sobocinski.
- Tom Olson will recruit a member to become vice-president.
- A new treasurer was appointed, Glenn Doering.
- Tom Olson reviewed the proceedings of the Board of Directors Session of October 16, 2012, highlights of which appear earlier in the website.
- Northern Highlands-American Legion State Forest Superintendent, Steve Petersen, updated the board on the following subjects:
- DNR volunteer agreement
- Trail access questions and requirements
- Promotion of Hemlocks trail systems
- The DNR Master Plan, a proposed new mini-master-plan system, and possible State Natural Area (SNA) status for Hemlocks
- Ronie Jacobsen, Education Committee Chair, presented the following initiatives:
- Creation of two large educational signs for the east and west trail systems, a “welcome” sign revision, and possible trail map sign replacements
- Stronger coordination between Hemlocks and Discovery Center for programs and events conducted at Hemlocks
- Possible new ideas for the Hemlocks website
- Collaboration with several other northwoods nature-oriented organizations
October 16, 2012
- DNR is considering purchasing over 600 acres in the Town of Winchester to be part of Northern Highlands-American Legion State Forest. It may have State Natural Area (SNA) potential.
- The board considered expanding its scope to support other SNA's, but decided instead to remain focused on the Hemlocks property for the time being.
- The organizing and scheduling of trips in Hemlocks planned by the Friends will be managed by Discovery Center personnel, with Discovery naturalists to participate as much as possible.
- The treasury has $8500 cash on hand, and has expended $5321.79 since inception.
- Paul Specht resigned as board member and treasurer; Tom will contact potential candidates to replace Paul from a list of names generated by meeting participants.
- Friends will pursue the possibility of gaining access to both the west trail system and the east trail system through adjacent private lands, to relieve traffic pressure at the current trailhead accesses.
- Friends should review and sign a volunteer agreement document with DNR.
- Steve Petersen met with a concerned neighbor adjacent to the east trailhead to hear the neighbor's concerns regarding traffic and visitor activity near the trailhead.
- An invasive plant committee, chaired by Bob Horswill, was authorized.
- A boot brush will be installed at the west trailhead.
- Membership expansion is desirable, but there is no urgency for a push in the near term. Al Drum will develop a membership drive plan for consideration next spring.
- An educational committee, chaired by Ronie Jacobsen, was authorized. This committee will work with Discovery to organize trips in Hemlocks. This new committee will seek to collaborate with other entities such as Conserve School and Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association.
- Friends will seek membership in local chambers of commerce.
- Friends will continue to seek SNA status.
- Al Eschenbauch agreed to direct trail maintenance activities.
Second Annual Meeting, August 10, 2012
- The UW Stevens Point student-generated brochures are almost ready at the printing department. The brochures now show the correct graphical orientation of both East Van Vliet Road and West Van Vliet Road as they approach trailheads.
- The deed for DNR ownership of Hemlocks has been executed, but Steve Petersen does not yet have a copy.
- Steve Petersen will meet in August with a concerned landowner adjacent to the east trailhead.
- Forester Jay Gallagher will present information on the glacial history of the area on October 13, 2012. The presentation will be on-site, at Hemlocks.
- Colleen Matula, a DNR naturalist, will help organize programs and tours.
- The treasury has $8802 cash on hand, and has expended $4519 since inception.
- A planning session of the board will be scheduled for fall of 2012.
- The Friends will push to become a State Natural Area (SNA).
- Trail maintenance needs to be organized.
- Hemlocks should consider joining chambers of commerce.
- Bob Horswill was elected to the Board.
June 29, 2012
- Transfer of ownership from the BCPL to the DNR has taken place.
- New board member Al Drum accepts position of secretary.
- Membership promotion and future plans will be addressed in a strategic planning session in October.
- Members had been encouraged to participate in two recent hikes. State naturalist Randy Hoffman led a hike in May and the Bird Club invited Friends member to join them on a hike in June.
- Bob Horswill will head an effort to complete an inventory of invasive plants on the site.
- A trail maintenance day will be scheduled in late July.
- Approved purchase of two boot brushes. One is for the west side and the other goes back to the town to replace the one they let us install on the east side.
- Annual meeting will be scheduled in August.
- Steve Petersen is getting printing cost estimates on two of the UWSP student projects. The information brochure and the treasure hunt flyer are the first two projects we are working with. We also hope to use the entry sign for the west side in the near future.
April 27, 2012
- A review of the nine projects submitted by the Stevens Point students was the main work of this meeting. Overall everyone was pleased with the outcome. Three projects were selected to move forward on immediately with some editing work needed. We hope to use the concepts of some of the other projects in the future.
March 21, 2012
- A membership drive will be held for current members only. Membership incentives will include free hikes.
- Steve Petersen indicated that the DNR will eventually want to set up a land use agreement with the Friends to clarify our role with the property. A DNR trails coordinator will review the current trail system and make recommendations.
February 16, 2012
- Status of the transfer of ownership from the BCPL to the DNR is on track for late spring or early summer.
- Ed Brodsky, Sarah Johnson, and Steve Petersen travelled to UW Stevens Point to meet with four students in the Interpretive Media class of Professor Brenda Lackey. These students will be developing media to promote the Van Vliet Hemlocks. Board members will be hosting the students on a site visit.
January 13, 2012
- On 12/14/11 the Natural Resources Board approved the purchase of the Van Vliet Hemlocks from the BCPL. On 1/10/12 the Joint Finance Committee approved the purchase and on 1/12/2012 Governor Scott Walker approved the purchase.
- Steve Petersen, the superintendent of the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest, introduced himself to the board of the Friends. Steve will be attending board meetings and working with the Friends as a relationship with the DNR is created.
- The board approved funds to engage some UW Stevens Point students in a media project promoting the hemlocks property.
December 6, 2011
- Natural Resources Board meets on December 14 to consider the purchase of the Van Vliet Hemlocks. Letters in support of the acquisition from individuals in addition to the letter from the board are encouraged. Tom Olson will speak on behalf of the Friends at the meeting.
- Website is live. Future updates may include online membership capability, more information on board activities, and an education section.
- Jill Wilm volunteered to be the point person for trail maintenance issues.
October 6, 2011
- Submitted required Besadny and Olson grant reports to Sarah Johnson for delivery.
- Approved final design and content of donor recognition sign.
- Approved $100 donation to NLDC in recognition of Zach Wilson leading the fall hike.
First Annual Meeting, August 25, 2011
- The President's Report explained who the Friends are, and what goals the organization sought.
- John Schwarzmann, Forest Supervisor for Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), described the role BCPL played in the formation of Friends, and the current status of the land acquisition by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
- Treasurer Paul Specht presented the Treasurer's Report, citing money totals for grants, donations, memberships. Paul then outlined expenses.
- Paul delivered the Strategic Planning Summary, describing the Purpose/Mission and Long Term Vision of Friends. Paul shared results of a survey of members asking where Friends should go in future.
August 22, 2011
- Approved annual meeting agenda.
- Agreed to begin work on FOVVH web pages to be included in NLDC website.
- Set fall hike for October 22 at 9:00AM.
July 19, 2011
- Agenda for Annual meeting and meeting particulars discussed.
- Discussed plans for a Fall Hike to be lead by Zach Wilson.
- The meeting was followed by a Board Strategic Planning Session.
June 23, 2011
- Agreed to have additional trail markers installed on trails to better identify trails for hikers.
- Approved purchase of a trail entry sign for the West portion of the property.
- Set Annual Meeting date for August 25 at 7PM.
May 26, 2011
- Agreed on need for “Private Property” and “Trail Ends” signs at key locations.
- Discussed and agreed on “Ribbon Cutting” plans.
May 5, 2011
- Discussed and approved initial budget for the FOVVH.
- Approved payment of trail head graphic design invoice.
- Approved purchase of membership incentive mugs.
- Made assignments for reaching out to area lake associations for additional memberships.
- Set timing of trail head and trail marker post and sign installation.
April 15, 2011
- Approved spending up to $500 for graphic services for large trail head signs.
- Approved spending up to $600 for trail signs and markers.
- Named Tom Olson named official contact person between FOVVH and BCPL.
- Approved considering the incorporation of FOVVH in the NLDC website.
The Friends of the Van Vliet Hemlocks was established in March, 2011 to continue the work an informal organization of people had started on August 13, 2010. A meeting at Tom Olson’s home included staff from both the BCPL and DNR, local naturalists, a representative from the Discovery Center, and community members. It was agreed that both the BCPL and the DNR were in favor of transferring ownership of the Van Vliet Hemlocks to the DNR for protection under the State Natural Area program. There was support from the BCPL for a community group to work on trail improvement, trail marking and signage, and public promotion of the area. Over the next six months, the trails were mapped, grants were obtained, information signs were developed, and a ribbon cutting ceremony was planned. It was decided that a Friends group would continue the mission of protecting and preserving this property.