The University of Wisconsin Press

Environment / Regional Studies / Sociology


Condos in the Woods
The Growth of Seasonal and Retirement Homes in Northern Wisconsin
Rebecca L. Schewe, Donald R. Field, Deborah J. Frosch, Gregory Clendenning, and Dana Jensen

Wisconsin Land and Life

“Sensitive to the historical development of the Pine Barrens and its similarities and differences with similar places in the early twenty-first century—first and foremost, this book is a work about people.”
—Robert Gough, author of Farming the Cutover: A Social History of Northern Wisconsin, 1900–1940

Scenic rural communities across the nation and around the world have been transformed as they have shifted away from extractive industries such as agriculture, mining, and forestry and toward recreation-based development relying on tourism, vacation homes, and retirees. These communities have built new economies and identities based on local natural resources and are highly dependent on the natural environment. With these changes have come new questions: Do retirees and seasonal residents fit into their new surroundings? Do longtime and new residents share the same values and visions for the future? Do diverse community members disagree about how to manage their forest and water resources?

Condos in the Woods explores how these issues are reshaping community structure, employment, and inhabitants’ attitudes toward their environment in the Northwoods. Looking at trends from the 1970s to the present, this work moves from the national scale to the Pine Barrens region in northwestern Wisconsin and examines the approaches of residents to the management of their natural resources. At the heart of this story, the authors find that despite the diverse makeup of such communities, residents share many common goals and values and display more successful integration than previously expected.

“Makes a major contribution linking and expanding beyond an array of research on the question: What does the growing dominance of seasonal home ownership and use mean for the communities of northern Wisconsin?”
—Susan I. Stewart, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Rebecca L. Schewe is assistant professor of sociology at Mississippi State University. Donald R. Field is professor of forest and wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Deborah J. Frosch is an environmental specialist at Alliant Energy. Gregory Clendenning is senior project manager at NMR Group, Inc. Dana Jensen is a private consultant specializing in long-range community and land-use planning and regional economic positioning.

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Close up of the side and roof of a cabin in the north woods

February 2012
LC: 2011018263 F
192 pp.   6 x 9   32 b/w illus.

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Updated October 13, 2011

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