Mukwonago (WKOW) -- from WI Governor's Office: Governor Jim Doyle Wednesday dedicated a major expansion of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
The 970-acre Mukwonago River parcel contains critical water resources and important natural habitats.
"The Stewardship Fund is an essential tool to protect our state's tremendous natural resources for future generation," Governor Doyle said. "The Mukwonago River Unit will improve our ground and surface water, and serve as a recreational and nature treasure for southeastern Wisconsin families."
The newly-dedicated Mukwonago River Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest was made possible through a state Stewardship Fund purchase of the 970-acre tract previously known as Rainbow Springs.
Rainbow Springs was partially developed as a golf course and resort facility over forty years ago, and most of its facilities lie in the Mukwonago River watershed and flood plain.
The restoration of the Mukwonago River area will protect natural headsprings that support the water quality and diverse animal species in the area.
In addition, the restoration of the Mukwonago River area will protect species in the lakes and tributaries, along with the grassland and wetlands.
The diverse, critical species include 16 mussel species, a dense duck population, 59 species of fish and critical trout habitats, as well as wetland and grassland species such as Canada Geese, mallards and sandhill cranes.
It will also provide a crucial habitat for the Blandings turtle, and increase habitat available for migratory birds residing in the Vernon Marsh State Wildlife Area and the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine.
For several years, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sought to acquire Rainbow Springs because of its important water resources and its potential as a recreational and natural treasure for southeastern Wisconsin families.
Governor Doyle thanked the DNR, Waukesha County, and the previous landowners for working together on the purchase.
Established during the 1937 session of the Wisconsin State Legislature to provide recreational opportunities in southeastern Wisconsin, the Kettle Moraine State Forest is used for a variety of outdoor recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, trapping, hiking and cross country skiing.
The forest is located approximately 35 miles west of Milwaukee and is within 100 miles of five million people.
The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund has protected over 500,000 acres of land since 1990.
Governor Doyle has strongly supported the Stewardship program, protecting nearly 200,000 acres since coming into office.