Boulder Lake Campground in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest officials have yet to decide whether they will reverse plans to close a popular northern Wisconsin campground until further notice.

Boulder Lake Campground in northwestern Oconto County is currently closed and would normally open in May in time for the start of Wisconsin’s inland fishing season, according to the Antigo Times News.

However, incidents last year involving a property owner adjacent to the campground have prompted forest officials to keep the facility closed until further notice. A closed campground would have a negative economic impact on the area, according to the owners of two local businesses that depend on traffic from the campground each summer.

“We’re a new owner here, so we were kind of looking forward to that campground being open,” said Brent Hipke, owner of Crab N Jack’s, located less than two miles from the campground on State Highway 55.

“That campground is going to affect several businesses in this area,” he said. “There are a dozen or more that will be directly affected by the closure. That’s unfortunate if that happens. I don’t know what to expect. I’ve lived here all my life and I know that campground has supported a lot of local businesses. I was depending on it.”

He said the campground, which includes 89 individual sites and a group camping area, factored into his and wife Jackie’s decision to purchase the business, formerly known as Buettner’s Wild Wolf Inn, last October.

“We offer rafting, restaurant dining and the bar,” he said. “We’re actually looking into doing some canoe and kayak classes and thinking about putting in a few (camping) sites ourselves.”

Hipke said he assumed the campground would reopen this year after law enforcement officials said the situation with the property owner had been resolved. An Oconto County judge ruled in late January that the man seek treatment at a mental health facility and also suspended his right to possess firearms.

The C-NNF website includes the following statement: “The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest has temporarily closed Boulder Lake Campground for the 2018 recreation season and no reservations will be accepted until further notice. Reservations already made have been cancelled and refunds generated. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest continues to evaluate the potential public safety concerns that are outside of the forest’s control at Boulder Lake Campground. The Forest Service has not made a final determination on if and/or when Boulder Lake Campground will be open for the 2018 recreation season.”

Hipke said he hasn’t heard from local law enforcement or U.S. Forest Service officials about the campground’s status.

“They have not contacted my business or any business in the area that I know of as to what the situation is,” he said. “There were a lot of stories. I don’t know what’s true or what isn’t true. Everybody had a story to tell about this individual. It’s a big concern and it’s scary.”

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