Neillsville, Wis. School Forest
Contact: Dee Zimmerman
----Source: Clark County News: Aug. 1953; Compiled by Dee Zimmerman for her weekly column "The Good Ole Days" published Aug. 6, 2003.
The Neillsville Public Schools have acquired 60 acres of land near Lake Arbutus for a school forest. The land is in Section 30, town of Levis, in the neighborhood of the homes of two Indian families, the Jesse Mikes and the Thompsons.
When the school district moved to acquire land in that area, the original purpose was to get 80 acres. But it was found that the land desired, though belonging to the county, had upon it the home of Thompsons and grounds used by the Indians for camping and ceremonials. The Indians were concerned at the prospect. The Thompsons had not paid taxes and the title had reverted to the county. Yet, the Thompsons claimed that information had been given them long ago that they did not need to pay taxes. The 80 acres in question contained the Thompson home.
Rather than to create a difficulty, the officials of the school district agreed that the forest area should consist of 60 acres instead of 80. This gave the Thompsons opportunity to buy 20 acres from the county, including the site of their home. The school district acquired the remaining 60 acres from the county. The deed also specifies that the Indians may use the grounds for camping and ceremonials, subject to the supervision of the Neillsville Superintendent of Schools.
The purchase of this land for a school forest provokes an inquiry as to the school forest land on U.S. Highway 10, west of Wedges Creek. That land bore a sign, indicating that the Neillsville school district lost interest in that forest quite a few years ago. The reason is that the school acquired no substantial interest in that forest, according to the arrangement in vogue at the time that forest was started.
The school proceeded for several years with planting, putting out an aggregate of about 15,000 trees. Then somebody, by chance or otherwise, read the fine print in the agreement and found there that the school children could have all the fun they wanted in planting trees in the forest, but that the timber, when the trees matured. belonged not to them or the school district but to Clark county.
Upon that discovery, the school quit trying to do the work. Entitled to receive about 5,000 trees per year from the state nursery, the school distributed them among farm boys who agreed to plant them on their home acres. Now, finally, the school is acquiring land outright, upon which it can plant and can have what grows.
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