Forest County

Chequamegon-Nicolet

National Forest

Forest County

The Nicolet National Forest was established by presidential proclamation in 1933. Archeologists have traced the Nicolet's cultural history to the time 10,000 years ago when the area was inhabited by the original people.

The forest is named after Jean Nicolet, a French explorer who came to the Great Lakes region in the 1600s. During the 17th century, growing numbers of Europeans and Indians made the Northwoods their homes. Following close behind the fur traders were the lumberman who established a timber industry. As the old growth pinery dwindled, the coming of the railroad brought new opportunity to the logging industry by opening up the hardwood and hemlock forests. Lumbering reached its peak here in the 1920s. By 1930, most of the land had been cut over, burned and abandoned. Much of the cut over land was sold to immigrants for farms and homesteads. However, the soils of the North Woods proved better suited for growing trees. Many farms were abandoned and forest fires burned uncontrolled across the land. In 1928, the federal government, under the authority of the Weeks Law of 1911 bought thousands of acres of abondoned and tax delinquent land. The area was called Oneida Purchase Unit and it was a forerunner of the Nicolet National Forest.As the great depression rolled across the United States, thousands of young, unemployed men joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. Camps were established in the newly formed Nicolet National Forest. The corps was active in the forest, corpsmen planted thousands of acres of jack pine and red pine, built fire lanes and constructed recreational facilities across the Nicolet National Forest.Today the new forest provides a mutlitude of natural resources including fish and wildlife, hardwood and conifer forests, lakes and streams.