A Forested Legacy: Conservation Easement Protects 39 Acres

A Forested Legacy

One of central Wisconsin’s finest examples of a managed forest is being donated to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point by a family long committed to conservation.

Jeanette Rogers, who died April 22, along with her children, Jim and Jane, are honoring the wishes of their late husband and father, George Rogers, to permanently preserve a 39-acre managed, working forest in the town of Hull.

The family is donating the land to the UW-Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources (CNR). The George Rogers Living Forest will be used by as an outdoor laboratory for education, demonstration and research.

The Rogers family worked with North Central Conservancy Trust (NCCT), a Stevens Point-based land trust, to place a conservation easement on the property. This was an essential first step to Rogers.

“Dad believed that preserving green spaces in an increasingly urbanized landscape is a top priority for maintaining quality of life in Portage County,” Jim Rogers said.

George Rogers, a Stevens Point native, longtime writer, editor, civic leader and devoted conservationist, died last November.

“We are grateful to the Rogers family for this generous gift, and we are honored to carry on the legacy of stewardship that George started more than 60 years ago,” said CNR Dean Christine Thomas. “This forest has been extremely well managed and is exactly the type of woodland property we look for in a field teaching site.”

Rogers purchased the property in 1950, when it was mostly open land with a few scattered scrub oak and jack pine. He planted more than 40,000 red pine seedlings and 500 white pine seedlings, with the help of UW-Stevens Point students. Nurtured through the state’s Forest Crop (Managed Forest) Law program, the property was transformed into a productive, managed forest.

He felt it could be a great learning space for forest management students and wanted the property kept in permanent green space, regardless of who owns it.

“What an incredible gift Jeanette and George have made,” said NCCT’s Executive Director Betsy Kerlin. “This special place will remain forever forested for the enjoyment and benefit of students and the public.”

Rogers wrote about the managed pine planation in his book, “Among the Leaves.”  He harvested about 1,900 cords of wood between 1972 and 2007, including logs to build three cabins at the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station.

A conservation easement provides permanent protection of scenic working lands, preserving habitat for wildlife and plant communities, Kerlin said. Local landowners interested in preserving their property from development can contact NCCT for information on conservation easements.

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