Woodland Women on the Water

Women's woodland paddle event

By Nichole Henger, Forestry Program Coordinator for the St. Croix River Assocation

On Saturday, August 22nd, a group of women woodland owners and natural resource professionals gathered at the shores of Polk County, Wisconsin’s Clear Lake to kayak and to learn about forest stewardship. The reality of a pandemic context was evidenced in the use of facemasks and the small group size, but in spite of the challenges, participants got out on the water, made connections with like-minded women, and learned about forest management plans, woodland taxes, and identifying aquatic and terrestrial invasives.

The St. Croix River Association hosted this fun and casual kayaking event in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension’s Natural Resources Education Program. Last year the event was held on the St. Croix River, but this year’s location was changed to Clear Lake to accommodate social distancing.

The St. Croix River Association’s mission is to protect, restore and celebrate the St. Croix River and its watershed, and one way to do this is by protecting the watershed’s forests. Around 75% of the forests in the watershed are privately owned, meaning supporting these landowners and helping them maintain their forests is vital to the future of the watershed and its communities. There is also a growing trend of women becoming the primary decision-makers in managing their woods.

The event began on shore with educational presentations from a woman forester discussing management plans and different stewardship options for woodland owners. She provided a wealth of knowledge to attendees and, having written the forest management plan for Clear Lake, brought the plan for attendees to see as an example of what their plan could look like. Her talk was followed by an invasive species talk from the Lower Chippewa Invasives Partnership. They provided various handouts on terrestrial invasives to be on the lookout for in your backyard.

The second portion of the event was what most of the attendees were waiting for—getting in the kayaks and conversing with the other women. Six women ended up registering for this event, including a mix of natural resources professionals and woodland owners. The intimate size of the group allowed us to talk and get to know each other while kayaking on the peaceful lake.

Attendees left the event with information on who to contact if they had questions about their woodland taxes, how to identify certain terrestrial invasive species, information about the My St. Croix Woods program, and the great classes that are being hosted by UW-Madison Extension in September to further advance their knowledge.

See below for a list of upcoming events!