(Northland's NewsCenter) --- The first phase of Wisconsin's largest land conservation deal has been finalized and 70 square miles of undeveloped forest is now protected.
According to our partners at the Duluth News Tribune, The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now holds conservation easements on the forest land in Douglas, Bayfield, Burnett and Washburn counties.
The Conservation Fund prompted the $11.3 million deal.
The area is now called the Brule-St. Croix Legacy Forest and includes access to 39 miles of hiking, skiing, biking, snowmobile and ATV trails.
It includes 75 small lakes and ponds and 14 miles of streams.
The second phase is proposed for 2014 and will include more than 22,600 acres for about $6 million.
Once complete, the conservation easment is expected to cost more than $17 million and will protect more than 67,000 acres of land.