The Conservancy, in partnership with the Wisonsin
DNR, purchased the sugarbush property, located on the north face of Mt. Ashwabay, from
the Nourse family in 2005 to create the Nourse Sugarbush State Natural Area.
In addition to its quality habitat for
migratory song birds, gray wolf, and black bear and its old growth maple and
hemlock forests, the Nourse Sugarbush has cultural and historical significance
to the region. For hundreds of years, the sugarbush was a spring
destination for Ojibwe people, who were the first to tap those maple trees for producing maple syrup. Slash marks from those days are still
evident on the oldest trees. The
Nourse family has continued the tradition since the 1920’s. A small cabin (c. 1920) and tin
storage shed used for maple syrup production still exist on the property and
are used for annual sugaring operations by the Nourse Family who retained
lifetime rights to harvest syrup.
One of Mt. Ashwabay’s most scenic cross country ski trails passes
through this area.