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Glacial Lakes Conservancy easement protects Pigeon River corridor

The following post was written by Bob Schuh for USA-Today Network-Wisconsin.

 

Glacial Lakes Conservancy accepted a conservation easement Sept. 5 protecting 39.6 acres of a 51.28-acre property along the Pigeon River in the Town of Sheboygan.

The easement encompasses the Windway House, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The property is bisected by three-quarters-of-a-mile of the Pigeon River. The forested floodplain is identified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as a state-recognized wetland area.

Two other GLC preserved properties — the Garton “Bur Oak” and Northup “Bella Terra” conservation easements — are in close proximity along the Pigeon River corridor.

Along with this corridor, conservation values for public benefit include the rich and diverse natural habitats that provide shelter and food for large and small mammals, birds, insects and amphibians. Steelhead, salmon, whitetail deer and wild turkeys have been documented within the property boundaries.

The wooded areas contain American beech, bur oak, maple, basswood, wood anemone, marsh marigold, trillium, troutlillies and other species.

Glacial Lakes Conservancy is a private, nonprofit land trust offering conservation options to landowners and organizations in Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Kewaunee, Calumet and Fond du Lac counties. Visit glaciallakes.org.

Door County Land Trust Protects 37 Acres Near Rowleys Bay

The following post was written by our wonderful member Door County Land Trust.

 

In late August, landowners Bruce and Joan Pikas donated a 37-acre conservation easement on their boreal forest tract to the Door County Land Trust. The conservation easement adds to existing protected land in the area which includes several other conservation easements, The Nature Conservancy’s Mink River Estuary and the Land Trust’s Three Springs Nature Preserve. Ten rare plant species and 15 rare bird species are found within this protected landscape.

Bruce and Joan Pikas have lived in the Rowley’s Bay area for more than 40 years. When the opportunity arose to purchase this forested property, they purchased the land to protect it from being divided and developed. Joan said, “The longer we’ve owned this land, the more we realized it needed to be protected forever. The conservation easement with the Door County Land Trust ensures it will remain the same.”

“We love walking the property in every different season. We see turkeys, coyotes, porcupines, ruffed grouse….And we want to make sure that will never change,” says Bruce. More than 150 species of birds have been documented migrating through nearby protected lands.

Door County Land Trust’s land protection specialist Drew Reinke says, “Conservation easements are a key tool for protecting wildlife corridors and ensuring opportunities for wildlife to move freely across the landscape, while keeping the property in private ownership.” A conservation easement is a legal agreement made by landowners which protects the ecological value of property forever, regardless of future ownership.

Land Trust executive director Tom Clay says, “Some of Door County’s most wild and ecologically diverse lands are privately owned, but deserve the same level of protection as our nature preserves. We look forward to partnerships with landowners to create conservation easements that enhance our land protection efforts throughout the county.”

Protection of the Pikas property adds to current conservation efforts of the Door County Land Trust and the Nature Conservancy in this area. The most southern extents of Arctic boreal forest in North America are found along the Lake Michigan shoreline area of northern Door County, making the boreal forest of the Pikas property particularly significant. To the east of the property is the North Bay Lowlands Area which contains several high quality wetland communities. The property also lies within an 11,000-acre coastal wetland corridor recognized as a “Wetland of International Importance” by the Ramsar Convention.

Update: State Budget and the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

The end is in sight for Wisconsin’s state budget process, with the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance scheduled to take a final round of votes in early September. All indications from the Legislature point to no further changes being made to funding for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The Stewardship Program is currently funded at $33 million per year, with $7 million available for nonprofit matching grants.

Photo: Brant Erickson

Despite the fact that the Stewardship Program has moved through the Joint Finance Committee without changes or cuts, the land trust community must remain vigilant during the remaining legislative session. As we shared earlier in 2017, companion Bills AB338/SB270 were introduced back in May by Rep. August and Sen. Nass. These bills would essentially end crucial parts of the Stewardship Program through a convoluted process—utilizing program funding to purchase lands that are already owned by the state’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL). The revenue generated from this sale is proposed to create a scholarship fund at the UW.

We have vocally opposed the bills since prior to their introduction earlier this year, and we sent a letter to all legislative offices in opposition, requesting that legislators not sign on as co-sponsors. Additionally, we sent action alerts out to our members and spent a couple of days in the Capitol asking Representatives and Senators not to sign on to the bills as a co-sponsor. These advocacy efforts appear to be paying off, as the number of co-sponsors on the bills was fairly small, 11 in the Assembly, 5 in the Senate. The status of these bills will need to be monitored until the end of the session, and pressure against them must be maintained.

Mississippi Valley Conservancy Earns National Recognition

The following post was written by our wonderful member Mississippi Valley Conservancy.

LA CROSSE, WI – August 10, 2017 – At a time of political change, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1997, Mississippi Valley Conservancy has been doing just that for the people of Southwest Wisconsin. Now the Conservancy announced it has renewed its land trust accreditation – proving once again that, as part of a network of only 389 accredited land trusts across the nation, it is committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work. Additionally, the Conservancy was awarded a special Commendation for its Project Evaluation Worksheet. The Commission will use this worksheet as an example of excellence to land trusts nationwide.

 

“Renewing our accreditation shows Mississippi Valley Conservancy’s ongoing commitment to permanent land conservation in Southwest Wisconsin,” said Carol Abrahamzon, Executive Director. “We are a stronger organization than ever for having gone through the rigorous accreditation renewal process. Our strength means the bluffs, forests, streams, prairies, and farms of the Driftless Area will be protected from development, forever. Places for birds, butterflies, bees, and children to live, grow and thrive, forever.”

The Conservancy had to provide extensive documentation and undergo a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation renewal. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded the renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that the Conservancy’s lands will be protected forever.

Accredited land trusts must renew every five years, confirming their compliance with national quality standards and providing continued assurance to donors and landowners of their commitment to forever steward their land and easements. Almost 20 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas vital to healthy communities are now permanently conserved by an accredited land trust.

As an accredited land trust, Mississippi Valley Conservancy’s mission is to preserve our bluffs, farm fields, wetlands, prairies and streams in the Driftless Area. The Conservancy serves the Wisconsin counties of Buffalo, Crawford, Grant, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, Trempealeau and Vernon. The staff of conservation and land management experts works with landowners who voluntarily participate in conservation agreements and land acquisition efforts. The Conservancy also owns and manages nature preserves to enhance biodiversity and provide habitat for declining species. The organization’s outreach team provides environmental education in efforts to enrich our local communities.

 

“It is exciting to recognize Mississippi Valley Conservancy with this distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Accredited land trusts are united behind strong ethical standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever. Accreditation recognizes Mississippi Valley Conservancy has demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

Mississippi Valley Conservancy is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the most recent National Land Trust Census, released December 1, 2016 by the Land Trust Alliance. This comprehensive report also shows that accredited land trusts have made significant achievements.

  • Accredited land trusts have steadily grown and now steward almost 80% of conservation lands and easements held by all land trusts.
  • Accredited land trusts protected five times more land from 2010 to 2015 than land trusts that were not accredited.
  • Furthermore, accreditation has increased the public’s trust in land conservation, which has helped win support for federal, state and local conservation funding measures.

A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits are detailed atwww.landtrustaccreditation.org.

# # #

ABOUT MISSISSIPPI VALLEY CONSERVANCY

Founded in 1997, Mississippi Valley Conservancy is a nationally accredited regional land trust that has permanently protected more than 18,500 acres of scenic lands in southwestern Wisconsin by working with private landowners, businesses and local communities on voluntary conservation projects. The focus of the Conservancy is to conserve the forests, prairies, wetlands, streams and farms that enrich our communities, for the health and well-being of current and future generations.

ABOUT THE LAND TRUST ACCREDITATION COMMISSION

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

ABOUT THE LAND TRUST ALLIANCE

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. Based in Washington, D.C., and with several regional offices, the Alliance represents about 1,000 member land trusts nationwide.

The Alliance’s leadership serves the entire land trust community—our work in the nation’s capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; our education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and our comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities. Connect with us online at www.landtrustalliance.org.

Bayfield Regional Conservancy Earns National Recognition

The following post was written by our wonderful member Bayfield Regional Conservancy.

 

Bayfield, WI (August 15, 2017) – At a time of political change, one thing is clear and consistent: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love.  Since 1996, Bayfield Regional Conservancy has been doing just that for the people of northwestern Wisconsin. Now Bayfield Regional Conservancy (BRC) announces it has renewed its land trust accreditation – proving once again that, as part of a network of only 389 accredited land trusts across the nation, it is committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work.

Bayfield Regional Conservancy had to provide extensive documentation and undergo a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation renewal. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded the renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that BRC’s lands will be protected forever.

 

Sue DeNuccio, Vice President of BRC’s Board of Directors, shared her perspective on the merits of accreditation.  “As a small land trust operating with a professional staff of two, the requirements for accreditation demand extreme diligence in addressing policy, process, and follow through.  The details are the devil, and the panel of accreditation reviewers don’t let anything fall through the cracks.  This means staff, board members, and volunteers must adhere to policy consistently.”

As DeNuccio underscores, “Accreditation means we can say to a prospective family wishing to protect their cherished property, we can do that forever.  We can say to grantors and partners, we are dependable and accountable for every dollar they invest in our work.  To the community; we are not just average, we excel at our work based on national norms.”

Accredited land trusts must renew every five years, confirming their compliance with national quality standards and providing continued assurance to donors and landowners of their commitment to forever steward their land and easements.  Almost 20 million acres of farms, forests and natural areas vital to healthy communities are now permanently conserved by an accredited land trust.

“It is exciting to recognize Bayfield Regional Conservancy with this distinction,” said Tammara Van Ryn, executive director of the Commission. “Accredited land trusts are united behind strong ethical standards ensuring the places people love will be conserved forever. Accreditation recognizes BRC has demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

BRC is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the most recent National Land Trust Census, released December 1, 2016 by the Land Trust Alliance. This comprehensive report also shows that accredited land trusts have made significant achievements.

 

  • Accredited land trusts have steadily grown and now steward almost 80% of conservation lands and easements held by all land trusts.
  • Accredited land trusts protected five times more land from 2010 to 2015 than land trusts that were not accredited.
  • Furthermore, accreditation has increased the public’s trust in land conservation, which has helped win support for federal, state and local conservation funding measures.

A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits are detailed at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About the Bayfield Regional Conservancy

Since its founding in 1996, Bayfield Regional Conservancy has preserved over 4,650 acres of natural lands, waters, forests, farms, and places of scenic, historic and spiritual value in Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Sawyer Counties. It has helped protect special places like Houghton Falls Nature Preserve, Frog Bay Tribal National Park, the Lincoln Community Forest, and the North Pikes Creek Wetlands Community Forest among others.

About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more,visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org.

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. Based in Washington, D.C., and with several regional offices, the Alliance represents about 1,000 member land trusts nationwide.

The Alliance’s leadership serves the entire land trust community—our work in the nation’s capital represents the policy priorities of land conservationists from every state; our education programs improve and empower land trusts from Maine to Alaska; and our comprehensive vision for the future of land conservation includes new partners, new programs and new priorities. Connect with us online at www.landtrustalliance.org.

State Senator Sheila Harsdorf named Policymaker of the Year

Policymaker of the Year – State Senator Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls has demonstrated an enduring commitment to land and water conservation in Wisconsin through her role on the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, her service on the board of the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, and her role as a board member of the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust from 1998 to 2001. Her long-time support of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program embodies Wisconsin’s strong bi-partisan legacy of land conservation.

As a founding Steering Committee Member of the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, Senator Harsdorf helped KRLT grow to the strong organization it is today, that now protects over 2,800 acres of land, and 9 miles of vulnerable stream bank in the Kinnickinnic River watershed. In addition to her work with KRLT, Senator Harsdorf has also been an ardent supporter of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and has volunteered on the Trail many times over the years.

 

Her support of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program has helped the Ice Age Trail Alliance and its partners protect approximately 160 properties, 14,000 acres, and nearly 90 miles of the Ice Age Trail. In the 2015-2017 budget, the Senator helped restore funding for the Stewardship Program, including $1M in funds for the acquisition of lands for the Ice Age Trail. Her support of the Stewardship Program helps land trusts all over Wisconsin protect the places that make Wisconsin such a special place to live. The Stewardship Program “would not have been funded without the continuous and stalwart efforts of Senator Sheila Harsdorf,” (Herb & Corrine Lundberg, Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers.)

For all these reasons, Gathering Waters is pleased to present Policymaker of the Year Award to State Senator Sheila Harsdorf on September 21, 2017 at Monona Terrace in Madison. Find out more about this event or RSVP on our website.

Driftless Area Land Conservancy named Land Trust of the Year

Land Trust of the Year Award – Driftless Area Land Conservancy is a nationally accredited land trust that has protected over 7,000 acres of unique natural and agricultural landscapes in southwest Wisconsin. Through the strong leadership of their board and the tireless efforts of their staff, the Conservancy has grown into an invaluable local asset: working to protect the natural resources of their region and providing public access, advocacy, and outdoor education programming in communities across their 5-county service area.

The Driftless Area Land Conservancy organizes countless educational programs, field trips, special events, training opportunities, and community conservation projects each year.

Under the leadership of their Executive Director Dave Clutter, the Conservancy is actively developing an ambitious plan to increase public access through the Driftless Area Trail– a project that would connect three state parks and other state lands, creating  a nearly 50-mile hiking loop. The Trail has real potential to boost tourism and economic development in the region.

Dave Clutter, Executive Director of DALC at Erikson Conservation Area

While doing this important work, the Driftless Area Land Conservancy team has developed a reputation for “being a thoughtful, forward thinking, strategic and passionate nonprofit in Southwestern Wisconsin,” according to Paul Ohlrogge with UW Extension. They also excel at fostering collaboration through efforts like the Lowry Creek Partnership near Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Taliesin, coordinating the Southwest Wisconsin Grasslands and Stream Conservation partnership, and facilitating multi-partner ecological restoration activities in the region.

The Conservancy has recently stepped up as an advocate for the unique landscape in the Driftless, organizing a coalition of community members opposed new transmission line infrastructure, which threatens to impact the scenic beauty and natural resources in the region.

Gathering Waters is thrilled to present the Land Trust of the Year Award to the Driftless Area Land Conservancy on September 21, 2017 at Monona Terrace in Madison. Find out more about this event or RSVP on our website.

 

Terry & DiAnne Hatch receive Land Legacy Award

Land Legacy Award – Terry & DiAnne Hatch are Iron County landowners whose generous support of land conservation in Wisconsin has been deeply impactful. Their contributions have created a legacy of protected land throughout the state and have bolstered advocacy efforts to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in public conservation funding through Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

Terry served for several years on the Gathering Waters Board of Directors, and he and DiAnne have long supported conservation organizations ranging from the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters to the Northwoods Land Trust.

While serving for seven years on Gathering Waters’ Board of Directors, Terry, often accompanied by DiAnne, made countless trips from his home in Illinois to meetings in Wisconsin. The Hatches’ commitment of time and energy has been matched only by their generous donations. As one of the most significant contributors in Gathering Waters’ nearly 25-year history, “the impact of their gift can be seen and felt in the growth and strength of Gathering Waters’ work, and reverberates statewide through enhanced land trust excellence and the lasting protection of some of Wisconsin’s most special places,” said Sara DeKok, former Associate Director at Gathering Waters.

In addition to financial support, Terry and DiAnne have demonstrated their conservation ethic through the permanent protection of their land in northern Wisconsin, donating a conservation easement that is held by the Northwoods Land Trust.

Generous, yet humble, thoughtful and measured, Terry and DiAnne have donated time, energy, resources, land, and immeasurable support to Wisconsin land conservation.

Gathering Waters is thrilled to present Terry and DiAnne Hatch with the Land Legacy Award on September 21, 2017 at Monona Terrace in Madison. Find out more about this event or RSVP on our website.

 

Dan Wisniewski receives Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Stewardship Award

Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Stewardship Award—Dan Wisniewski of Middleton has spent decades influencing public policy to benefit land and water conservation in Wisconsin. He has increased collaboration among conservation groups and served as a dedicated board member with Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) for twelve years.

NWLT holds over 80 conservation easements protecting more than 11,000 acres, including 27 miles of lake frontage and 33 miles of river frontage.  Through his 30 years of volunteering at the local, state, and national levels with Trout Unlimited (TU), Dan has played a critical role in securing funding for stream restoration and improved public access while fostering cooperation among TU, land trusts, and government agencies.

In his distinguished career in state and local government, Dan was committed to working for progressive conservation policies and funding.  As Secretary of the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, he initiated a program for identifying quality natural area lands that eventually led to the sale of about 12,000 acres to DNR. He also played a key role in advocating for the 65,000 acre Wild Rivers Legacy Forest in northeast Wisconsin and has been a strong supporter of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

For seven years, Dan has served as a citizen member of the Dane County Parks Commission, helping to direct one of the best local conservation programs in the country in collaboration with land trusts like Natural Heritage Land Trust and The Prairie Enthusiasts, as well as other conservation groups like TU; helping to secure Stewardship funding.

Dan also served as a board member of Pheasant Branch Conservancy and is helping to build a Dane County Parks Endowment, to better support the efforts of several thousand county park volunteers. He believes citizen volunteers can and must engage in issues vital to protecting our natural resources.

Those who have worked with him describe his passion for conservation and his savvy approach to fundraising and public policy advocacy. “[He] has spent years—decades—working steadily and effectively on a variety of levels to conserve lands and waters and provide the public with access to them.  His efforts have helped his communities, his state, and the nation to accomplish those goals.” —John (Duke) Welter, Trout Unlimited

 

 

Jim Welsh named Conservationist of the Year

Conservationist of the Year – Jim Welsh, Executive Director of the Natural Heritage Land Trust (NHLT), has been instrumental in the protection of many of the most loved and valued places in south central Wisconsin. During Jim’s successful tenure over the past 15 years, NHLT has achieved national accreditation and now has conserved over 10,000 acres of farms, forests, prairies, and wetlands in and around Dane County.

Under Jim’s leadership, NHLT has preserved land in rural, agricultural, and urban environments, including  historical areas like John Muir’s original family farm in Marquette County. Jim, hailed by many as a thoughtful and committed leader, is passionate that everyone deserves access to nature and open spaces.  He has worked with community members to support important conservation education initiatives, including expanding the forest at Lakeview Elementary School, and protecting land for use by low-income communities as gardens for food production.

 

One of Jim’s nominators, Michael Foy, summed up his qualifications this way: “Jim is absolutely the model of an effective modern conservationist, and everything we could hope for in a land protection partner. His enthusiasm to try new approaches, professionalism, quiet good humor, realism, and dedication to land protection makes him a pleasure to work with.”

For these reasons and more, Gathering Waters is thrilled to present Jim Welsh with the Conservationist of the Year Award on September 21, 2017 at Monona Terrace in Madison. Find out more about this event or RSVP on our website.

 



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