Wisconsin Historical Society Press
Beyond the Trees: Stories of Wisconsin Forests
By Candice Gaukel Andrews
336 pages, 154 color and b/w photos and 17 maps, 8 x 9;Buy
A Midwest Connections Pick for June 2011 by the Midwest Booksellers Association
The diversity of landscapes evoked in "Beyond the Trees" is matched only by the characters who inhabit them. Traverse the footsteps of Ojibwe hunters and early explorers in the remote woods of Brule River State Forest. Trek past the remains of bygone logging and CCC camps in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Glimpse into the world of Great Lakes shipping in Point Beach State Forest. Walk on trails named after John Muir and Increase Lapham in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, and experience urban green space at Milwaukee's Havenwoods State Forest. From orchids to oak savannah, beaver to brook trout, and white-tailed deer to timber wolves, discover Wisconsin's flora and fauna.
Richly illustrated with color photographs by the author's husband, John T. Andrews, and other professional photographers, "Beyond the Trees" is also an intimate visual portrait of these stunning landscapes. Archival images, informative sidebars, locator maps, and contact information for Wisconsin state and national forests round out this unique book.
Nature writer Candice Gaukel Andrews weaves together contemporary observations and historical reminiscences in "Beyond the Trees: Stories of Wisconsin Forests." Readers will journey to some of the most pristine and notable places in the Upper Midwest: Wisconsin's state and national forests.
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Interview with Candice Gaukel Andrews
Wisconsin Historical Society Press: Why did you decide to write "Beyond the Trees?"
In 2004, when I began traveling throughout the state to do research for my 2006 book "Great Wisconsin Winter Weekends," I found that visiting forests was one of my favorite things to do in each area that I was writing about. That got me wondering if anyone had ever written a book about what it’s like to personally experience all of our state and our one national forest. I couldn’t find any. There were academic books on our forests and many logging history books, but that wasn’t the kind of book I was looking for. I wanted one about what it actually feels like to be in a Wisconsin forest: what it’s like to run your hands over a wooden, logging dam turnstile from the 1800s or what it’s like to stand in a circle of "cathedral" trees and look up into their lofty crowns.
I knew there was a missing piece in our Wisconsin forest literature: we needed a book on our forests from a nature writer’s perspective.
WHS Press: What were some of the most surprising or interesting things you learned about Wisconsin’s forests?
I learned that Wisconsin forests are extremely diverse — more so than you would think since they are all technically termed "forests." There are forests that are more beach than forest; forests that are more prairie than forest; forests that are more water than woods; and forests that have virtually no water at all. There are forests that are young and some that are old, there are those that are wide in shape and some that are very slim, some that are remote in location and some that sit near or in the middle of a big city, and some that remain wild with very few footpaths while others are highly developed with specific trails made out of high-tech materials for specific purposes.
In other words, one stand of trees is definitely not like another once you get out of the car, lace up the hiking boots, and start exploring on foot.
WHS Press: In what ways was writing "Beyond the Trees" a personal experience? How do you feel connected to the book?
I started, really, from a "blank slate." I hadn’t really visited any of our forests when I started writing this book and didn’t know much about them other than the logging history. So, I knew I would have to personally get inside the forests, walk their trails, float their rivers, touch their plants, catch glimpses of their animals, stumble across evidence of their history (such as old, stone foundations hidden in the underbrush), and have coffee with the people who live or work in them every day. This was not so much an academic research project as it was a hands-on, get-down-in-the-dirt-and-on-the-trail kind of acquaintance and connection I needed to make with our forests.
Now that I’ve done all the research, personally visited all the forests, talked with the people who love them, I feel like I know them all as individual friends, with individual personalities.
WHS Press: How is this book a uniquely Wisconsin story?
This book is a uniquely Wisconsin story precisely because it is about Wisconsin’s state forests. We are "forest people" here in Wisconsin. Forests are in our blood; they are part of us. Our European ancestors who first settled here and who strived to establish successful agricultural fields had them foremost in their minds every day as they worked to chop the woods back; they saw forests as something to be eradicated and tamed. They worked their hardest to "control" them. But now that we, their descendants, are no longer fighting them every day, we miss them. We tend to see them as havens from city life and the constant barrage of mass communications.
WHS Press: Which forest is your favorite to visit and explore? Which forest did you enjoy writing about the most?
That’s a tough one! It’s like asking a mother which of her children is her "favorite." One day, I may give you one answer; but ask me the next day, and I may be most fond of another. Because they truly do have such distinctive personalities, it’s hard to compare them on an even playing field.
Today, I’ll say that the Brule River State Forest comes to mind because it is so wild and still so "primitive" in many ways. And those kinds of remote, undeveloped places always appeal to me. When writing this book, it was a joy for me to discover the Brule forest’s Historic Brule to St. Croix Portage Trail logbook. As a writer, I got inspiration from reading what others had written about their experiences in the forest, right there on a bench on the trail. They wrote down their thoughts on the spot, unedited. The comments were so genuine and from the heart.
Ask me tomorrow, though, and I’ll probably mention the Black River State Forest’s great diversity of terrain and plants and animals; or I might answer that I love the Coulee Experimental State Forest’s quietness and hard-to-find quality. It goes on and on; every day, I’m thankful I got to get to know them all in such a deep and personal manner.
WHS Press: What do you hope readers take away from "Beyond the Trees?"
We Wisconsinites are truly "a people of the trees." The Great Northwoods is in our genes, so to speak; whether we live in northern Wisconsin or the southern part of the state. If you’ve lived in Wisconsin anytime while you were growing up, you studied the history of Wisconsin’s great forests in school. They are us, and they’re still in our own backyard.
If I inspire even just one person to get up, go outside, and start exploring a nearby forest, then the long hours and many miles on my hiking boots were spent for a good cause.
2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Winner in the Science/Nature/Environment Category
2011 Midwest Independent Publishers Association Midwest Book Awards
Winner in the Nature Category
Stephanie Lecci interviewed Candice Gaukel Andrews on Milwaukee Public Radio's "Lake Effect." This originally aired on June 27, 2011.
Candice Gaukel Andrews was interviewed by Larry Meiller on Wisconsin Public Radio's "The Larry Meiller Show." This interview originally aired on July 13, 2011.
Candice Gaukel Andrews was featured on "Wisconsin Life" on Arbor Day, Friday, April 29, 2011, during Morning Edition on the NPR News and Classic Music station.
Nina Leopold Bradley, founder and director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation
"Recognizing the social and ecological values of Wisconsin's forest resources helps us to achieve a more equitable and sustainable use of some of the most beautiful places on earth — our forests. 'Beyond the Trees' reaches back into history — linking our forests together and at the same time seeing their great differences. This splendid book allows each reader the chance to explore the intimate reaches of Wisconsin's forest history with depth and excitement, mystery and adventure."
Lowell, Klessig, professor emeritus of natural resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
"'Beyond the Trees' is important in a state where forests make major contributions to the economic, recreational, and aesthetic well-being of its citizens. Andrews's first-person narrative provides readers with a taste of specific landscapes and familiarity with the people who molded that landscape, past and present. For citizens of Wisconsin, the book expands their awareness of their heritage. For visitors, it will help them enjoy both Wisconsin forests and culture."
Mary Bergin (www.roadstraveled.com), author of "Sidetracked in Wisconsin," "Hungry for Wisconsin," and "Sidetracked in the Midwest"
"'Beyond the Trees' takes an up-close, clear, and informed look at the terrain, wildlife, foliage, and moods that distinguish our most cherished wooded landscapes. Be it orchids in the wild or wild ricing rituals, this book distinguishes the natural nuances within our forests and pays attention to the people who watch over our them with passion and purpose."
Martin Hintz, author of "Wisconsin: Off the Beaten Path" and "Forgotten Tales of Wisconsin"
"Candice Gaukel Andrews brings Wisconsin's natural world alive in marvelously crafted explorations of the state's forests. She captures the majesty and power of the woodlands in all their glory. ... This is a bookshelf must-have for anyone who respects and honors Wisconsin’s beauty as much as does this gifted author."
Ben Bressler, founder and director of Natural Habitat Adventures
"Since the dawn of humankind, in pockets throughout our planet, nature and humans have been irrevocably intertwined. As I find out in 'Beyond the Trees,' so it is true in Wisconsin's forests. As a worldwide nature traveler and a history buff, I was captured at every turn of the page by Andrews’s poetic imagery of the state's natural history and her captivating accounts of the characters who brought this nature to life."
R. Bruce Allison, author of "Every Root an Anchor: Wisconsin's Famous and Historic Trees"
"This book offers not only a valuable guide to the reader preparing for a visit to one of Wisconsin's state and national forests, it also can be read cover to cover as a fascinating and thorough Wisconsin environmental history. ... Aldo Leopold in 'A Sand County Almanac' told the history of conservation through the chronology of the Good Oak's annual rings; Candice Gaukel Andrews tells Wisconsin's environmental history by exploring the unique personality of each forest."
Gabriela Worrel, "ForeWord Reviews"
"Explorers looking for an accessible, comprehensive naturalist guide to Wisconsin forests will be happy to read 'Beyond the Trees: Stories of Wisconsin Forests,' by Candice Gaukel Andrews. While many nature books and field guides seek to achieve some semblance of interesting narrative that goes beyond a dry exposition of scientific names and geologic eras, Andrews’s book takes the idea of nature exploration as storytelling to a new level."
This review by Jeanne Kolker appeared in "77 Square" on Sunday, May 29, 2011.
Stories from the forests: Book invites exploration
The summer vacation season is almost here, but before packing up the camping gear, get a glimpse of the unique ecosystems that exist in the depths of our state's forests in "Beyond the Trees."
Nature writer Candice Gaukel Andrews maps out the rich landscapes of Wisconsin's forests in the new book from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.
"Beyond the Trees" has been a few years in the making, as Gaukel Andrews mapped out Wisconsin's 10 state forests (she counts the northern and southern Kettle Moraines as one) and one national forest and planned her travels through each.
In the book, Gaukel Andrews shares stories, maps, and gorgeous photos (most were taken by her husband, John T. Andrews) that represent each of Wisconsin's forests. And what struck her the most from her travels?
"From the road, when you look at a forest, it just looks like a stand of trees, which you can hardly see beyond. They all look alike from that standpoint," Gaukel Andrews said by phone from her Sun Prairie home.
"But what's astounding is that they each have a different personality. There's a forest that's almost all beach, Point Beach. There's a forest that's almost all prairie, Havenwoods. I was astounded at the variety of landscapes in what you would normally think of as just a forest with lots of trees," she said.
Her book is part travelogue and part history lesson, with some personalities thrown into the mix. Like Manny Stein, who spends his days perched in the Fifield Fire Lookout Tower in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Stein speaks of days spent all alone in nature, 100 feet in the air, with no books or TV to distract him, only the groaning of the wind through the metal tower. It's not a job for everyone, but for Stein, who's lived his life in a log home in the woods of Wisconsin, it's the perfect job.
"We're forest people, that's where we come from," Gaukel Andrews said. "The historical aspect of our forest system is so important. We need to keep our heritage and biodiversity here intact."
"Beyond the Trees" is an excellent place to start, as Gaukel Andrews reverently invokes Aldo Leopold and his conservation efforts page after page. It's not a guidebook to keep in a glove compartment, it's a collection of stories to be enjoyed with a glass of lemonade on a sunny porch.
"You'll learn about people and animals and the different personalities that exist in the forest," Gaukel Andrews said. "We have so many great forests in our own backyard, I want people to be inspired to go out and start exploring them."
This book feature and author interview by Bobby Tanzilo appeared on OnMilwaukee.com on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.
Seeing the forest and the trees
A few years ago I was given a book about landmark trees in an area full of small towns separated by farms, vineyards and small wooded areas. Locals were interviewed about the most beloved old trees in their towns. It was a testament to the human connection to nature and I devoured it.
When I saw Candice Gaukel Andrews' "Beyond the Trees: Stories of Wisconsin Forests" – published in paperback by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press ($26.95) – I was intrigued and quickly enthralled.
Sure, the 320-page book is about forests and trees, but while the history of the forests and the discussions of trees and other facets of nature are the heart of the book, the author's own discoveries, experiences and encounters with other people as she visits the parks are its soul.
Andrews, a Wisconsin native, is a former Paramount Pictures screenwriter, who left Hollywood to return to America's Dairyland. Her previous books include "Travel Wild Wisconsin" and "Great Wisconsin Winter Weekends."
With summer on tap, readers can also use the book to lead a self-guided tour of Wisconsin forest. Do a staycation at Havenwoods or Kettle Moraine or make a week of it and head up to Wisconsin's pinky and ring fingers to check out Brule River and Governor Knowles State Forests and Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forests Northern Region.
Before you go, check out our cyberchat with Candice Gaukel Andrews about "Beyond the Trees" and Wisconsin's forests.
OnMilwaukee.com: You noted that when you first thought of the book you thought "one bunch of trees looks like another." That didn't turn out to be true, did it? What did you learn writing this book?
Candice Gaukel Andrews: If you drive through a forest, or look at one from the road, it's true that one looks pretty much like another one; they all start to look like similar stands of trees. But when you get inside them — when you start to walk their trails, touch their plants, catch glimpses of their animals, float their rivers, come across evidence of their history (such as old, stone foundations hidden in the underbrush), and talk to the people who live or work in them every day — it's astounding how quickly they begin to reveal their different personalities.
OMC: Are there any "original" forests left in Wisconsin, where one can see what the landscape looked like when Native Americans were the only people here?
CGA: That's a tricky question. I've asked foresters to tell me where the virgin forests are. No one has a complete list because they tend to be very small stands of trees — or even one tree — that somehow escaped the loggers' saws and are often hidden away in a remote part of a forest. I can tell you, though, that the Big Block in the Flambeau River State Forest still has some sections of "original" forests.
OMC: How can you spot them?
CGA: It would be hard. As you learn from Chapter 11 – Nicolet Land Base of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest – a large tree is not necessarily older than a smaller tree growing nearby. Tree growth varies with genetics and environmental conditions. A good place to start locating them, though, would be to look into exploring the State Natural Areas.
OMC: Were you surprised to find a state forest right in the heart of Milwaukee? Do you think people realize it's there?
CGA: Yes, Havenwoods State Forest was a surprise. And even calling Havenwoods a "forest" was a surprise, as it's really more "prairie" than "forest." This goes back to personalities; this forest is definitely about prairies – just as Point Beach State Forest has a decidedly "beachy" personality. I think being in the midst of a large city, Havenwoods probably has a lot of public recognition and awareness. I think what might not be so commonly known is that it was preserved under the state forest laws. I think most visitors probably see it more as an "environmental center" and don't attach the idea of a "forest" to it.
OMC: Do you have a favorite among the many forests in the book?
CGA: That's a tough one! It's like asking a mother which of her children is her "favorite." One day, I may give you one answer; but ask me the next day, and I may be most fond of another. Because they truly do have such distinctive personalities, it's hard to compare them on an even playing field.
OMC: Has our view of forests changed over the centuries? It seems that in the past, scary stories were always set in the dark forest, where evil seemed to lurk everywhere. But now we think of them more as peaceful respites from the hustle and bustle of city life. What changed?
CGA: I address that in the book ("Fear and Longing in the Woods" in Chapter 11). When people were first trying to grow crops on the land, forests were something to be cut back, eradicated and tamed. They were "evil," so to speak, something to control. But now that we're no longer fighting them every day, we miss them. We truly are people of the trees; they're in our blood. And that's the great paradox of our forests, as mentioned in that sidebar.
OMC: What are the biggest threats facing Wisconsin's forests these days?
CGA: Without a doubt, climate change and global warming.
OMC: What can we do about those threats?
CGA: Do what you can to reduce your own carbon footprint. Support legislation that will reduce the effects of climate change on our planet — and particularly on our forests.
This review by Gabriela Worrel appeared in "ForeWord Reviews" in May 2011.
Explorers looking for an accessible, comprehensive naturalist guide to Wisconsin forests will be happy to read "Beyond the Trees: Stories of Wisconsin Forests," by Candice Gaukel Andrews. While many nature books and field guides seek to achieve some semblance of interesting narrative that goes beyond a dry exposition of scientific names and geologic eras, Andrews’s book takes the idea of nature exploration as storytelling to a new level.
Formerly a screenwriter, the author has indeed mastered the art of infusing visual description and first-hand experience into her nature and travel writing. Here, the reader is instantly catapulted into Andrews’s journey of exploration around Wisconsin forests as she, in an authentic firstperson voice, makes the journey lively and vivid with color and texture. Each of the fourteen chapters of the book examine a particular forest in the state, offering basic maps and photographs, giving a sense of the feel of the forest, describing its geological foundations from thousands of years back, and celebrating the plants, animals, and insects that thrive there. For the truly scientific, she offers appendices with scientific names, among other tidbits.
The information provides historical context and the reader also meets the human characters that are inevitably entangled in the stories from these landscapes: from Aldo Leopold, father of American forest management to the current caretakers of these state forests. It’s clear from the text that the author has done her homework, as evidenced by the plethora of personal quotes from her interviewees. She additionally manages to give each forest a unique identity in a part of the country that can be sometimes depicted as homogenous. For the reader, the red forest and water of the Black River State Forest stands out against the deep quiet of the ultra-remote nature in the Coulee Experimental State Forest. Occasional sidebars highlight special aspects of each forest, such as historical events and personalities, updates on endangered species, or way-finding tips, and also give each forest an added sparkle of uniqueness.
In "Beyond the Trees," the light and meandering character of the chapters and the feeling of ‘quickness’ within each section makes this book perfect for the casual naturalist, or someone looking for a glove-box guide for the spontaneous Wisconsin explorations. On the other hand, this book would also be good for a non- local looking for a nature travel adventure from an armchair vantage in Seattle. Either way, the author delivers a believable and vivid narrative of the diverse and rich forests of Wisconsin.
2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Winner in the Science/Nature/Environment Category
2011 Midwest Independent Publishers Association Midwest Book Awards
Winner in the Nature Category
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