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Sand and Fire:

Exploring a Rare Pine Barrens Landscape

By Dave Peters

Published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press


A few miles from the confluence of the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers in northwest Wisconsin lies a rare preserve of pine barrens that offers one of the most significant opportunities in North America to preserve, restore, and manage a large-scale barrens community. A tiny remnant of the millions of barrens acres that once covered the region, the Namekagon Barrens were formed over thousands of years by unfathomable amounts of glacial sand and repeated fires. This is a land of scrub oak and jack pine, blueberries and sweet fern, the ideal habitat for wolves and sharp-tailed grouse.

Just as compelling is the land’s rich human history, from Paleo-Indian hunters to Ojibwe berry pickers and from failed immigrant farm efforts to the habitat specialists who manage it today. This first-person account of a trek across the barrens sets the land’s unusual natural history as the backdrop for a multilayered story about the impact of people on a vulnerable landscape.

Sand & Fire - Exploring A Rare Pine Barrens Landscape

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