Archived entries for E-News

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.

 

Trump Budget Eliminates Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Leaving Fate of Lakes in Hands of U.S. Congress

The following statement was released today by The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 16, 2017)—The Trump Administration’s budget released today eliminates the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a popular program responsible for cleaning up toxic pollution, restoring wildlife habitat, controlling invasive species and reducing runoff from cities and farms. The cuts are part of the administration’s efforts to gut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by $2.6 billion, almost one-third of the budget for the agency responsible for ensuring every American has clean, safe drinking water. During the presidential campaign, representatives of Trump pledged to support federal Great Lakes restoration investments.

Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:

“For the 30 million people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, health, jobs, and way of life, the Trump Administration budget is a total non-starter. The Trump Administration’s budget makes it abundantly clear that real leadership to benefit the people of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois will have to come from Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, who have worked together over the last seven years to invest in Great Lakes restoration projects that are producing results for the environment and economy in local communities across the region. We look forward to working with Congress to restore funding to these important programs to ensure that Great Lakes restoration remains a top national priority.”

Read the White House budget at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf

EPA and Great Lakes restoration cuts can be found on page 41-42

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. For more information visit http://www.healthylakes.org Follow us on twitter @healthylakes.

Help Protect the Great Lakes

The original version of this article was updated on 3/16/17 in response to the release of the Trump Administration’s preliminary federal budget (EPA and Great Lakes restoration cuts can be found on page 41-42.)

The Great Lakes–which provide drinking water for nearly 40 million people, including more than a million Wisconsinites–are at risk. Gathering Waters staff is in D.C. this week for Great Lakes Day with more than 100 advocates from the region to let members of Congress know how vital and valuable the Great Lakes are to our state’s economy and quality of life.

Executive Director, Mike Carlson and Government Relations Director, Chris Danou were in Senator Baldwin’s office on the morning the draft budget was released.

Read on for more information about:

  • The potential for a complete loss of all federal funding for Great Lakes protection and restoration;
  • How you can help protect the Great Lakes;
  • Wisconsin land trusts and the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a critical federal program for cleaning up toxic pollution, reducing polluted runoff, controlling invasive species and restoring habitat. Cuts to this funding would be devastating.

Bi-partisan Great Lakes Programs at Risk

The Trump Administration’s preliminary budget eviscerates funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)–a critical federal program for cleaning up toxic pollution, reducing polluted runoff, controlling invasive species and restoring habitat. The loss of the $300 million annual funding would devastate Great Lakes restoration efforts. The GLRI has enjoyed strong bi-partisan support in Congress, and we’re looking to Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation for leadership in defending critical Great Lakes funding and programs.

Read a statement from the Healing Our Waters Coalition to find out more about the immediate threat to one of Wisconsin’s most valuable assets.

 

You can help by contacting legislators and making a donation.

YOU Can Help

As part of the HOW Coalition’s annual fly-in to Washington DC, more than 100 Great Lakes advocates, including Gathering Waters staff, are meeting with members of Congress this week to talk about successful restoration efforts and the need for continued investment in the region. Can’t join us in DC? No problem–you can make a difference from home. Call your federal representatives today and ask them to protect critical Great Lakes funding and programs.

Find contact information for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators and your U.S. House member, or simply text your zip code to 520-200-2223. You’ll get a text back immediately with everything you need.

Also, consider a donation to Gathering Waters today to increase your impact.

More than a dozen Wisconsin land trusts help protect the Great Lakes in the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior basins through land protection and management.

Wisconsin Land Trusts and the Great Lakes

More than a dozen Wisconsin land trusts help protect the Great Lakes in the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior basins through land protection and management. These protected lands–such as the Frog Bay Tribal National Park–also provide access to the Lakes for all of us–for all kinds of recreation and enjoyment, forever.

Cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be devastating to these efforts in the region.

Trump Administration Proposed Cuts to Great Lakes Programs, EPA Unacceptable

The following is a statement from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW Coalition), which consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Gathering Waters is a proud part of the HOW Coalition.

Republicans, Democrats in Congress are key to protecting Great Lakes, clean water programs

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 9, 2017)—The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today expressed deep concern with the rumored Trump Administration’s budget cuts that would gut core Great Lakes programs, roll back Clean Water Act protections, and delay federal action to respond to serious threats like the invasive Asian carp. Absent a change in course from the Trump Administration, the Coalition is looking to work with the U.S. Congress to keep federal restoration efforts on track.

“The administration’s actions over the last few weeks threaten to stop federal Great Lakes restoration efforts in their tracks and undermine gains we’ve made,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We strongly urge the White House to reverse course and put forward a strong Great Lakes budget that is in the best interest of the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, job, and way of life.”

Preliminary Trump Administration budget numbers leaked last week would eviscerate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – the popular and successful federal program to clean up toxic pollution, reduce runoff, control invasive species and restore habitat – from $300 million to $10 million, a 97 percent cut. This cut comes, even though President Trump’s campaign pledged to support Great Lakes restoration investments in September 2016. In addition to cuts to Great Lakes programs, the budget also contained drastic cuts to other critical programs and even the elimination of programs such as the EPA’s environmental justice office.

The preliminary budget was the latest in series of actions that could undermine Great Lakes restoration efforts. Over the last three weeks the Trump Administration has:

  • Proposed slashing funding for core Great Lakes programs by 97 percent;
  • Recommended cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 25 percent;
  • Indefinitely postponed the release of a study needed to bolster defenses against invasive Asian carp; and,
  • Issued an executive order asking federal agencies to review the Clean Water Rule to determine whether to revise or rescind it.

“These actions have real impacts on local communities,” said Joy Mulinex, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and director of government relations, Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “Federal investments are producing results, but serious threats remain. Cutting successful programs will not save the federal government one penny, because projects will only get more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.

President Trump is scheduled to release the final proposed budget the week of March 13. That week, as part of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition’s annual fly-in to Washington, D.C., more than 100 Great Lakes advocates will be meeting with members of Congress to talk about successful restoration efforts. Over the past three years, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress have beaten back attempts to cut Great Lakes programs.

“Congress controls the purse strings, and we have been fortunate to have strong Great Lakes champions on both sides of the aisle,” said Chad Lord, policy director, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Now, more than ever, it will be important for Great Lakes senators and representatives to support Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts and defend the policies and agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency that are the foundation for clean water. Every single person in the United States deserves access to affordable, clean, safe drinking water, beaches that are safe to swim in and fish that are safe to eat.”

Learn more about the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.

Driftless Area Land Conservancy Earns National Recognition

Strong Commitment to Public Trust and Conservation Excellence

At a time of political change, one thing is clear: Americans overwhelmingly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 2001 Driftless Area Land Conservancy (“Driftless”), one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States, has been doing just that for the people of Southwest Wisconsin.

Now Driftless is pleased to announce it has achieved national recognition, joining a network of only 372 accredited land trusts across the nation that have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in their work.

To be accredited demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation in Southwest Wisconsin,” said Mike Van Sicklen, Driftless’ board president. “Financial supporters, conservation partners and landowners should all feel comfort in the knowledge that we’re a strong, ethical and fiscally responsible organization for having gone through the rigorous accreditation program.

Driftless Executive Director, David Clutter, and his son are seen here at the 220-acre Erickson Conservation Area in Argyle Wisconsin, which is open for public enjoyment.

Driftless had to provide extensive documentation and undergo a comprehensive review as part of its accreditation application. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded accreditation, signifying its confidence that Driftless Area Land Conservancy’s lands will be protected forever. Over the past 16 years Driftless has conserved 42 different sites covering nearly 7,000 acres of farms, forests and natural areas, including the 220-acre Erickson Conservation Area in Argyle Wisconsin, open for public enjoyment.

Over the years Driftless has also conserved unique historic lands and resources like the Thomas Stone Barn outside of Barneveld, high quality trout streams, productive farmland, critical wildlife habitat for declining grassland birds and endangered species, old-growth woods and native remnant prairies, massive rock outcrops and geological features, and lands that provide buffer unique Wisconsin River backwaters that support threatened and engaged fish.

“It is exciting to recognize Driftless Area Land 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 Driftless Area Land Conservancy has demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

The National Land Trust Census, released December 1, 2016 by the Land Trust Alliance, shows that accredited land trusts have made significant achievements.

  • Accredited land trusts protected five times more land from 2010 to 2015 than land trusts that were not yet accredited.
  • Accredited land trusts also have stronger systems and more resources to steward and defend their conservation lands forever.
  • As a result, the public’s trust in land conservation has increased helping to 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 Driftless Area Land Conservancy

Driftless Area Land Conservancy’s purpose is to maintain and enhance the health, diversity and beauty of Southwest Wisconsin’s natural and agricultural landscape through permanent land protection and restoration, and improve people’s lives by connecting them to the land and to each other.

A student birding on one of the properties that is protected by Driftless and free for the public to enjoy.

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.

This blog post was copied from Driftless Area Land Conservancy’s blog

Scenic farm and bluffland property protected forever.

We received some wonderful news last week from our member land trust Mississippi Valley Conservancy (MVC). If you have a connection to the Mississippi River Valley, or simply care about protecting special places in Wisconsin, you’ll want to read MVC’s press release below:

Mississippi River Valley Property Conserved

A drive the through the Mississippi River Valley now features brilliant fall colors, and a short distance east of Ferryville, Mississippi Valley Conservancy has ensured 189-acres of scenic bluffland will remain intact for future generations. The Conservancy completed a conservation agreement with Ken and Deneen Kickbusch on Thursday, October 20th to permanently protect their 189-acre farm and bluffland.  The voluntary conservation agreement protects the scenic beauty and wildlife habitat by limiting future subdivision, development, mining, and other unsustainable activities that are inconsistent with the landowner’s wishes. The land remains in private ownership and is not open to the public.

“The animals and the birds don’t always have contiguous habitat, and our land can make a difference for the wildlife,” said Deneen, “we have so many great memories here.” Their memories include hunting trips with sons and grandsons, camping within view of the Mississippi River, working in the prairie, serenades by whippoorwills, and startling wood ducks out of the ponds.  Carol Abrahamzon, Executive Director for the Conservancy stated, “Ken and Deneen have been so thoughtful about the use of their land and the future of that land. We are honored to be a part of realizing their dream to protect the wildlife and its habitat.”

 

kickbusch-ac-007

The Kickbusch 189 acre property is comprised of farmland, bluffland and prairie communities. Its protection ensures wildlife and native plants will have suitable habitat, forever.  

Photo by: Mississippi Valley Conservancy

The Kickbusch’s bought the land in 1976, attracted to the rural character, the lack of buildings, and the wildlife. The land is a mix of agricultural land and wooded bluffs, with the steep rugged topography characteristic of the Driftless Area. Ken and Deneen recognized the importance of land preservation, watching changes to the landscape as commodity prices rise, stating, “a conservation easement would provide the kind of protection that this highly erodible land deserves”. Nationwide an acre of farmland is lost every minute from conversion to other land uses. Over the years, terraces and water retention ponds were added to the Kickbusch property to address soil erosion and runoff. “When we bought the property, we restored the ponds,” said Ken, “which were as full this year as they have ever been, and always used by the wood ducks. Once, I counted sixteen wood ducks flying out of the pond.”

The land also includes several “goat” prairies, labeled as such because the early settlers thought they were so steep, only a goat could climb them. The prairies include the same wildflowers and grasses that were present here 200 years ago. The agreement with the Conservancy ensures that habitat remains intact for wildlife, and future owners honor the conservation practices within the farmland. “There is just too much abuse of the land, devastating local communities, rivers, wildlife,” said Ken “we felt this was something solid, something real we could do for the future”.

great-plains-ladies-tresses

Great Plains Ladies Tresses Orchid, found on the Kickbusch property. The orchid was recently added to the DNR’s list of species of “Special Concern”. The native wildflowers & grasses found today have been present on the Kickbusch land for over 200 years. 

Photo by: Mississippi Valley Conservancy

“The Kickbusch’s land provides a great example of how little is known about the habitat right here in our backyard,” remarked Abbie Church, Conservation Director for the Conservancy, “as we walked through the prairie, we found a small stalk of snow-white blooms, and a Great Plains Ladies Tresses Orchid. We walked on to find five other stalks. This orchid was recently added to the Wisconsin DNR’s list of species of “Special Concern” and the University of Wisconsin herbarium has no previous records of this orchid being found in Crawford County. One week later we found yet another species of rare orchid, this time in the woods, another new record for Crawford County.” The prairie today is in great shape due to Ken and Deneen’s efforts. “Fifteen years ago Ken went out and cut the red cedars in the prairie,” according to Deneen, “It looks much better today than ever before; the prairie is so beautiful”.

 



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