Archived entries for General Interest

A Majority of Wisconsinites Support Reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Members of the Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter meet for one of their Wednesday hikes. (Photo by Cameron Gillie)

 

The survey says people in Wisconsin support the work of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and want to see it continue.  The support is overwhelming regardless of political affiliation and demographics. The following press release was distributed by Gathering Waters and the Nature Conservancy on July 18, 2018.

Overwhelming Bipartisan Majorities of Wisconsin Voters Support Congressional Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund
LWCF will expire on September 30 th

MADISON — The overwhelming majority of Wisconsin voters want Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), with 86% of the state’s electorate in support of continued funding.

A recent statewide survey of Wisconsin voters conducted by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies (R) and FM3 Research (D) demonstrates overwhelming public support for Congress to reauthorize and continue to fund LWCF. Support for reauthorization of LWCF extends across party lines,
across the state, and with all key demographic sub-groups.

“The people of Wisconsin overwhelmingly support continued investment in the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Mike Carlson, Executive Director of Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts. “These results show that it doesn’t matter if you’re from an urban or rural area, a man or a woman, conservative or liberal – virtually everyone agrees that this is one of the best programs Congress has ever come up with and it should be continued.”

The desire to have continued federal investments in LWCF is evident across all major segments of the electorate, including:

  • 91% of Democrats, 88% of independents, and 79% of Republicans;
  • 92% of moderates, 77% of conservatives, and 95% of liberals;
  • 88% of men and 85% of women;
  • 88% of voters of color, and 87% of whites;
  • 87% of urban voter, 90% of suburban voters, 89% of small town residents, and 82% of rural residents; and
  • 83% of voters in the Green Bay/Appleton media markets, 87% of voters in the Milwaukee media market, 91% of those in the Madison area, and 86% of those in the northern portions of the state.

“There is virtually no other federal conservation program in America that has this level of bipartisan support,” said Mary Jean Huston, Director of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. “We strongly urge
Senators Johnson and Baldwin, Speaker Ryan, and the rest of the Wisconsin delegation to make permanent reauthorization and funding of LWCF a priority before the September 30th deadline.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided funding to help protect some of Wisconsin’s most treasured places and ensures recreational access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. It has also been a vital program for keeping large tracts of forestland intact and producing timber for local forestry economies.

Wisconsin has received approximately $218 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and North Country National Scenic Trail, the St. Croix National Scenic River and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

LWCF is America’s most important conservation and recreation program, responsible for protecting parks, trails, wildlife refuges and recreation areas at the federal, state and local level. For over 52 years, it has provided critical funding for land and water conservation projects, access to recreation, and the
continued historic preservation of our nation’s iconic landmarks.

LWCF does not use any taxpayer dollars – it is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments.

A copy of the polling memo from the bipartisan research team of FM3 Research and Public Opinion Strategies is attached.

100% FOR THE PLANET challenge

Fontana Sports and Patagonia are giving away $15,000 to local organizations, including Gathering Waters!

If you purchase Patagonia merchandise from Fontana Sports (in person or on their website) between Friday, November 17 – Sunday November 26, you can donate 100% of the sale to Gathering Waters. Get some holiday shopping done early, and support Gathering Waters at the same time! Thanks to Fontana Sports, and Patagonia for supporting Gathering Waters.

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.

 

Family donates conservation easement at Rowan Creek State Fishery Area

The following post was written by our wonderful member Natural Heritage Land Trust.

 

Good news that yesterday a family with Madison roots permanently protected 165 acres of their beloved land through a voluntary conservation easement donated to Natural Heritage Land Trust.

The family’s land along Rowan Creek just west of Poynette in Columbia County boasts some remarkable views over the Rowan Creek valley and is being lovingly restored by the family.

Many threatened and endangered species have been found on the property, including slender glass lizard, massasauga rattlesnake, and ornate box turtle. The conservation easement ensures that the land will remain an undeveloped refuge for these and other animals and plants in perpetuity.

The property and its surrounding landscape is also culturally very rich, with a long history of use by Native Americans and farmers of European descent. And while it seems unbelievable, Wisconsin’s first outdoor rock festival, Sound Storm, featuring the Grateful Dead, was held in a natural amphitheater on the property in 1970. Read the Wisconsin Historical Society’s article here.

We honor Telle Zoller for having the vision to protect this special place, forever. And, we thank the supporters of Natural Heritage Land Trust for making this project possible.

Yours in Conservation,

Jim Welsh
Executive Director

Natural Heritage Land Trust

State and Federal Land Conservation Programs are at Risk

If ever there was a time for Wisconsin’s land trusts and the conservation community to work together with a common purpose, this is it. Many of our top priorities at the state and federal levelsWisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and public land ownership—face grave threats, and we need your support and involvement.

State Threats

Lands purchased through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program help protect Wisconsin’s air and water quality, and provide outdoor places that are close to home, where folks go to find peace, recreate, and reap the health benefits associated with such areas. Assembly Bill 338 seeks to reallocate most of that funding to create scholarships for students and purchase low-value lands currently owned by the state.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program helps keep pace with an ever-growing need for public access to undeveloped, natural greenspaces throughout the state–like the one pictured here. Photo by Amy Singh

Federal Threats

The President’s 2018 budget proposal threatens to completely eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which provides critical funds that clean up and reduce pollution, prevent invasive species from ruining our waters, and keep our Great Lakes healthy.

The federal budget proposal also includes severe cuts to the Land & Water Conservation Fund, a program that creates and protects national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges from development. It also provides matching grants to states for their local parks and recreation projects.

These federal programs protect our nation’s most valuable assets: clean water, air, and the kind of natural landscapes that are so important for our physical and mental well being. Photo by Mindy Petersen.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Urge Wisconsin legislators to oppose this bill.

Let your state senators and house member know why you care about these important federal programs.

Looking for additional ways to help? Here are 7 ways to help protect your public lands and waters.

Tree Farmer Permanently Protects Land on Arbor Day

Kann famliy celebrating the permanent protection of their beautiful tree farm.

The following press release was written by our land trust member Mississippi Valley Conservancy 

An award-winning local tree farmer is celebrating Arbor Day Friday by signing a land protection agreement with Mississippi Valley Conservancy.

Gerald Kann of La Crosse who was named north central region Outstanding Tree Farmer of the year in 2016 by the American Tree Farm System, is permanently protecting his 114-acre Monroe County tree farm with a conservation easement.

Kann, who also received recognition in 2014 as Wisconsin Outstanding Tree farmer of the Year, said it was a nice coincidence to be closing on the agreement on a day set aside to celebrate the role of trees in our lives.

From 1974 through 2016, the Kann family, including wife Charlotte and sons Kurt and Karl, planted over 45,200 trees on their property. For 25 years, the tree farm was operated as a “choose-and-cut” Christmas tree farm.

“The Kann Property truly demonstrates exceptional forest stewardship,” said Carol Abrahamzon, executive director for the conservancy. “Their dedication to caring for the land is apparent in both the hours they’ve spent taking care of the property and also in the sheer numbers of trees planted.”

A conservation easement is a partnership between a land trust and a conservation-minded landowner. The conservation easement ensures that the Kann tree farm cannot, at any point in the future and regardless of ownership, be converted to a residential subdivision or cornfield, but remain as a refuge for area wildlife.

Abbie Church, MVC conservation director, said that wildlife observed over the years by the owners include bobcat, fisher, black bear and badger. Her most recent visit to the property included serenades of spring frogs, including spring peepers, chorus frogs, and wood frogs, all of which can be heard right from the porch of the log cabin on the property. Winter hikes on the on the property provide an abundance of wildlife tracks, the forest resources providing food and cover throughout the year.

The citation for the Wisconsin award says that the winning tree farmer “must exhibit the most exceptional forest stewardship to protect and improve forest health, wildlife habitat, clean water and sustainable wood supplies, and must promote this stewardship within their communities.”

Church said that meshes with the Conservancy’s focus to “conserve the forests, prairies, wetlands, streams, and farms that enrich our communities for the health and well-being of current and future generations.”



Gathering Waters • 211 S. Paterson St. Suite 270 • Madison, WI 53703 • PH 608-251-9131 • FX 608-663-5971 • info@gatheringwaters.org