Van Vliet Hemlocks

Friends of Van Vliet Hemlocks

The Friends are organized to protect and preserve the unique ecology of the Van Vliet Hemlocks. We help maintain the trails and provide educational materials and programs for the public.

Friends' members may quietly support our efforts or may choose to participate in, support, or lead:

  • Activities that protect and preserve the site.
  • Projects that develop or maintain trails, signs, and interpretive materials.
  • Education and recreation efforts aimed at supporting activities consistent with the Friends' purpose and in collaboration with the Discovery Center, area schools, and partnering organizations.

We are founded under the Discovery Center, a nonprofit 50lc(3) organization. Due to this, the Friends comply with NLDC bylaws. We are self-sufficient in the pursuit of organization programs and activities but are partially supported by NLDC via facility, equipment, professional and volunteer staff, insurance, and communications assets.

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Latest Member Letter

June 2023

Dear Friend:


The Van Vliet Hemlocks State Natural Area has received “dedicated” status from the State of Wisconsin in a recent action by Gov. Tony Evers. This is something we have worked with DNR staff to achieve since its acquisition by DNR.  According to Carly Lapin (our primary DNR contact), “This provides protection to the site in perpetuity and is the strongest form of land protection available in Wisconsin.”

Of course, our greater role is unchanged. We will continue to monitor Van Vliet Hemlocks to preserve and protect it, to work with DNR to manage it as an old growth forest, and to find the best ways to have our members and the general public enjoy it and learn about what makes it so special.

Unfortunately, the Sugarbush Trail remains closed due to the hemp nettle infestation there. It is very important that all visitors use the boot brushes both before hiking and after – and avoid the Sugarbush Trail. The open trails are being monitored for invasive plants and DNR staff will be active there doing pulling sometime in June.

Changes to Presque Isle's ATV/UTV Ordinance in 2021 now allow their use on public roads in the township. We have placed NO ATVsigns at all access points to the Van Vliet Helmocks, and to date have no issues to report. We encourage members to report any observed activity by notifying the DNR at (800) TIP-WDNR and to include any registration or license number you may see.

There will be several hikes and a paddle with naturalists this year in the Van Vliet Hemlocks. Check with  and then go to programs, program list and type in “Van Vliet” in the ‘Event Name’ field to see what is happening. More may be added as the year goes on. We will also sponsor field trips for several school groups this year.

Watch our website  and then click on Van Vliet Hemlocks for additional information during the coming year.

Our Board just concluded its Spring meeting. The organization is in excellent condition. It has a solid group of members, an excellent Board of Directors, good programming and is in good financial shape. Your support is important.  We urge you to join us for our annual meeting.

The Annual Meeting will be at 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 13th at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in the Lodge Room. Please bring a dish to pass and we will supply beverages. In addition, we are hoping to have a presentation discussing hemp nettle.

Again we wish to thank the North Lakeland Discovery Center and the Wisconsin Department  of Natural Resources for our continuing very positive working relationships. Their support makes the Friends a much more successful organization.

Over the past several years our ongoing activities have cost approximately $3000 per year – which we are funding through annual contributions from members. We thank you for your support of our efforts and hope that you continue to enjoy and learn from this beautiful place.

Please renew your membership for 2023 (and thanks if you already have).  A membership form is enclosed for your convenience.






Eric Benn, Treasurer, Bob Berdan, Ed Brodsky, Al Drum, Secretary, Al Eschenbauch, Bob Horswill, Licia Johnson, Sarah Johnson, Tom Olson, President, Richard Phillips, Jenna Richardson , Phil Sobocinski, Vice President, Zach Wilson


John Heusinkveld, North Lakeland Discovery Center, Ronie Jacobsen, Van Vliet Lake Association, Beth Feind, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Current Members


  • Diane Muri and John Aldridge
  • Ken Alix
  • Nick Andrew
  • Mike and Pam Baeten
  • Bob and Darlene Berdan
  • Denny and Catherine Breitholtz
  • Ed and LaVergne Brodsky
  • Frank and Lylas Brown
  • Jeff and Jorja Burke
  • Brett and Deanne Bussler
  • Paulette M. Cary
  • Ronie Jacobsen and Michael Czarny
  • Alan and Sue Drum
  • Al and Pam Eschenbauch
  • John and Dona Fagan
  • Steve and Nancy Frank
  • Marcia Grear
  • Bob and Linda Growney
  • Carol Heitman
  • Al and Julie Hillery
  • Bob and Merrill Horswill
  • Sarah and Cal Johnson
  • George and Pat Kupfer
  • Ann L. Milne
  • Victoria and Mark Minsloff
  • William and Susan Niemuth
  • William and Anita Nohava
  • Otto and Linda Novak
  • Richard and Carol Novak
  • Andy, Lisa, Emma and Sophie Olson
  • Eric, Kristin, Nathan, and Mackenzie Olson
  • Judy and Jim Olson
  • Mike, Jen, Hudson, and Britta Olson
  • Barbara and Tom Olson
  • Melinda Pearce
  • Jim and Sarah Rose
  • Mark and Marjean Schuelke
  • Steve Smithson
  • Paul and Sharon Specht
  • Jim and Kathy Sprester
  • Phillip Stark
  • Robert Stewart
  • Gayle Strand
  • Bob Twelmeyer
  • Mark Uscian
  • Dave and Kathy Vogt
  • Jill Wilm, Lin Ahlstedt, Howdy, and Sparkey
  • Phyllis Zeiss


  • Carlin Lake Association
  • Crab Lake Association
  • Friends of Armour Lake
  • Van Vliet Lake Association


  • Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin:
  • C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant
  • Paul and Alice Olson Memorial Fund
  • WI Board of Commissioners of Public Lands