Van Vliet Hemlocks - FRIENDS

FRIENDS of Van Vliet Hemlocks

The FRIENDS are organized for the purpose of protecting and preserving the unique ecology of the "Van Vliet Hemlocks" which is owned by the State of Wisconsin, Department of Natural Resources and for educational purposes. To that end, FRIENDS promotes the development of trials and educational materials for the benefit of the public.

The FRIENDS will serve as an organizational entity through which organization members may participate in or lead:

  • Activities supporting protection and preservation of Van Vliet Hemlocks.
  • Projects developing and/or maintaining trails, signs, and interpretive materials.
  • Education and recreation efforts aimed at supporting activities consistent with the FRIENDS purpose in collaboration with North Lakeland Discovery Center, area schools, and organizations.

The FRIENDS are organized as an unincorporated nonprofit association per Wisconsin Statutes.

The FRIENDS is founded under The North Lakeland Discovery Center (NLDC) a nonprofit 50lc(3) organization. Due to this close relationship, the FRIENDS complies with NLDC by-laws. The FRIENDS is self-sufficient in the pursuit of organization programs and activities but is partially supported by NLDC via facility, equipment, professional and volunteer staff, insurance, and communications assets.

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Latest Member Letter

May 2022

Dear Friend:

We are happy to report that the Van Vliet Hemlocks State Natural Area has come through another winter in good shape. We are monitoring the trails and clearing any substantial blockages. The past 12 months have shown both more guided nature hikes and the beginnings of the return of school groups. One almost never goes to the parking lot without seeing at least one vehicle there. It is being used.

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.

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.

Last year’s change to the Town’s Code of Ordinances allows use of ATV/UTVs on public roads in the township. Our access points are all on town roads. We have placed NO ATV signs at access points to the Van Vliet Hemlocks. We are concerned that ATV riders may access the property causing damage to trails and introducing or spreading invasive species. The DNR advised that riding ATVs is prohibited in the Van Vliet Hemlocks – and that they will enforce that prohibition. If anyone observes ATV traffic in the Van Vliet Hemlocks, please notify the DNR at (800) TIP-WDNR. When reporting, please try to observe any registration or license number.

There will be  a birding hike for 6th graders at North Lakeland School by the Discovery Center naturalists and funded in part by the Friends. Also, there is a paddle on Van Vliet and Averill Lakes on July 29th funded by the Friends and led by naturalists at the Discovery Center. The Fall Color hike will be October 1st  and again led by the Discovery Center and is free. Check the Discovery Center website for more information . Registration is required.

The Board recently determined to add 3 additional member positions on the Board of Directors. The new directors will be elected at the Annual Meeting in August. We are very determined to keep a strong and active Board of Directors.

The Annual Meeting will be at 4:00 PM of Wednesday, August 10th. We will advise of the location as soon as it is finalized.

We want to thank you for your support of the Friends of the Van Vliet Hemlocks. The organization is in excellent condition. It has a solid group of members and supporters, an excellent Board of Directors, good programming and is in good financial shape. Your support is important.

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.

Watch our website for additional information during the coming year.

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.

Please renew your membership for 2022 (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, Phil Sobocinski, Vice President


John Heusinkveld, North Lakeland Discovery Center, Ronie Jacobsen, Van Vliet Lake Association, Craig Dalton, 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