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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

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

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

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



Door County Land Trust Surpasses 8,000 Acres Protected

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


106 Acres Added to Chambers Island Nature Preserve

The Door County Land Trust announces today that it has now surpassed 8,000 acres protected from development through the addition of 106 acres to the Chambers Island Nature Preserve. Door County Land Trust Executive Director Tom Clay says, “We are pleased that with this most recent acquisition we are surpassing two milestones— 8,000 acres are now protected by the Land Trust, and at 593 acres, Chambers Island has become our largest nature preserve. Chambers Island is an important piece in the picture of Door County’s conservation.”

Chambers Island provides vital stopover habitat for migratory birds. The island is dominated by hardwood and cedar forests with contiguous canopy, an inland lake called Mackaysee, and wetlands including a leather-leaf muskeg (bog), the only one of its kind in Door County. Protecting Chambers Island was recognized as a priority during joint conservation planning sessions with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy and others.

The 8,000 acres protected by the Door County Land Trust are the result of several land protection methods that create corridors of conserved lands benefitting native plant and wildlife species. The Land Trust owns and manages 15 nature preserves and 24 natural areas, which comprise about 4,100 acres protected. Additionally, 3,200 acres are permanently protected through conservation easement agreements with private landowners. An additional 700 acres have been protected and transferred to other organizations for ongoing care.

“There is urgency to our work in Door County. Protecting our thriving plant, fish and bird habitats now creates a refuge in an otherwise rapidly changing world,” says Door County Land Trust director of land program Terrie Cooper. “The Land Trust is poised to protect the most vulnerable places on the peninsula, like the interior of Chambers Island which is so important to the birds migrating over the bay each year—over 169 species identified so far.”

Thanks to a fruitful partnership with the Chambers Island Nature Preserve Committee and the Chambers Island Association, generous donations to the Door County Land Trust from individuals and private foundations account for nearly 40% of the funds raised for the project to date. These donations have been matched by funds provided through the State of Wisconsin DNR Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund Grant Program, the Fox River Natural Resource Damage Assessment funds and North American Wetland Conservation Act Grant Funds. Fundraising for the Chambers Island Nature Preserve continues as additional land and the needs for the ongoing care of the nature preserve are identified.

IATA Awarded Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service

The following post was written by our wonderful member Ice Age Trail Alliance.

Saturday, April 27, 2017

Cross Plains, Wisconsin – The Ice Age Trail Alliance won three of six categories for the George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service. This recognition from the National Park Service reflects the commitment of our members and dedication of our volunteers and staff.

“We are extremely grateful for the dedication and impact of every volunteer,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “Each volunteer performs different tasks but shares the same goal – to make a difference every day. Whether a volunteer builds a bridge on a trail or a bridge to the future during a children’s program, each selflessly gives of his or her time and talent to enrich the national park experience for others.”

The Hartzog Awards are named for former National Park Service Director George B. Hartzog, Jr. and his wife Helen. Hartzog served as the head of the National Park Service from 1964 to 1972. In 1970, he established the Volunteers-In-Parks Program with 300 volunteers. Since then, more than four and a half million people have donated more than one and a half billion hours of service in national parks.

National Recognition:

Winning national recognition for the Hartzog Outstanding Volunteer Service Group Award was the IATA Mobile Skills Crew Program.  What garnered attention and sets this program apart is its passion, enthusiasm, and friendly sense of community. Since 2002, these attributes brought 13,408 volunteers on 146 project events and generated a total of 265,351 volunteer hours towards making the Ice Age National Scenic Trail a reality. Lauded was its “formalized methodology of approaching trail construction and maintenance.” In tandem, systematic and professional-level trainings have enabled volunteers to fully participate in Trail stewardship. Also noted was the behind-the-scenes efforts to connect diverse communities to the Trail, leading to the successful, on-going establishment of new partnerships. (You may read the glowing nomination letter here.)

The recipients will receive their awards during a joint National Park Service/National Park Foundation ceremony in Washington, DC on August 1.

Regional Recognition:

At the Midwest regional level, two Hartzog Outstanding Volunteer Service Awards were awarded as follows:

Hartzog Enduring Service Award: Dean Dversdall, Indianhead Chapter Coordinator, won recognition across the Midwest Region for being “one of the Trail’s finest stewards by every measure.”  His passion and commitment is evident in the 7,177 volunteer hours since 2007 he’s contributed to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Dean selflessly advances the work of building, maintaining, and protecting the Trail at all levels: board leadership, facilitating land acquisition, Mobile Skills Crew leader, spear-heading hikes, and providing taxi service for thru-hikers.

Hartzog Outstanding Park Volunteer Program: Designed to get the next generation intimately connected to the Trail through an immersion experience, the Saunters Program was recognized for its “growth spurt.” In six short years, Saunters boasted a 366% increase in the number of school districts involved, and a 614% increase in students served. Extraordinary advances include introducing diverse populations – rural youth in northern Wisconsin to urban kids of Milwaukee – to the well-being found on the Trail.


The Ice Age Trail Alliance is a nonprofit volunteer- and member-based organization established in 1958 that works to create, support and protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. One of only 11 National Scenic Trails, the Ice Age Trail is a thousand-mile footpath that highlights Wisconsin’s world-renowned Ice Age heritage and natural resources. Visit to learn more.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at to learn more.

Ducks Unlimited WI chapters earn spots on elite list

Ducks Unlimited promotes healthy ecosystems for birds along their migratory routes.


The following article was published by Wisconsin State Farmer on May 25, 2017. 

MADISON – The President’s Elite are among Ducks Unlimited’s most prestigious volunteer chapters throughout the nation. Every year, the list is reserved for the chapters that raise $100,000 to $250,000 for DU’s habitat conservation work.

In 2016, Wisconsin had two chapters included on the list: University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and Madison Area chapters.

“These fundraising events are the backbone of DU’s habitat conservation efforts, and the volunteers who make up these chapters are the force making a difference for North American waterfowl populations,” said DU President Paul Bonderson. “It takes a great deal of effort to achieve the President’s Elite level, and these chapters deserve to be congratulated by every person who enjoys the outdoors.”

The 2016 President’s Elite chapters have the distinction of being honored during DU’s 80th National Convention in San Antonio, May 31 – June 4, with many chapter representatives in attendance.

UW-Stevens Point and Madison Area earned spots on the President’s Elite list out of the more than 2,600 DU chapters nationwide that host more than 3,900 fundraising events throughout the year. DU’s event fundraising system has become a model for other conservation organizations around the world and has funded a significant portion of the more than 13.8 million acres of wetlands and associated habitat DU has conserved since 1937.

“DU chapters across the country are showing that the future of waterfowl populations and the wetlands that filter our water and protect us from flooding are important to them and to their communities,” Bonderson said. “The more money we raise, the more habitat we can conserve and the closer we are to preserving our waterfowl hunting heritage. I would like to personally thank all our President’s Elite chapters for their achievement and look forward to seeing them among our distinguished chapters next year.”


Dane County to fund marsh land purchases

Natural Heritage Land Trust-Angie Banks


The following article was written by Jennifer Fetterly at The Star on May 30, 2017. 

DANE CO, Wis. – Outdoor enthusiasts will get more play area in the Lodi Marsh with a 58-acre land acquisition set to open to the public early summer.

The land off of County Highway Y in the northwest edge of Lodi Marsh will be a hot spot for hikers, hunters, fisherman, bird watchers and cross-country skiers.

The $174,642 price tag will be funded through Dane County Conservation Fund Grant and the DNR Stewardship Grant Program. The Natural Heritage Land Trust, which helped seal the land deal, is also contributing funds.

The Thompson property purchase is a coup to help protect critical waters, wetlands and grasslands in the current 1,211 acres Lodi Marsh Wildlife and State Natural Area, said Jim Welsh, executive director of the Natural Heritage Land Trust.

Closing up the gaps in the conservation area, he said, will help the state manage the land better.

The land, in the town of Dane, also has 2,000 feet of Spring Creek frontage. That was a plus for some Dane County supervisors, who unanimously approved the purchase at the May 18 county board meeting.

“This purchase is a good idea,” said Dane County Supervisor Dave Ripp. “That’s a Class 1 cold water trout stream, and this will help protect it by surrounding it with public land now.”

More money for marshes

Dane County it set to purchase 130 acres of land and easements in the Cherokee Marsh.

The $1.5 million deal will increase public access to the Yahara River in the natural resource and wildlife area and protect the waterways and restore wildlife habitat.

Last week Dane County supervisor approved the purchase of the 53 acres and a 77-acre conservation easement, from Ronald and Heather Treinen, as part of the deal. The land is at the intersection of River Road and Highway 19 in the Town of Westport and will be part of the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area.

Local environmentalists say this latest purchase will connect with the 81 acres the county acquired for $1.1 million two years ago along the Yahara River in the towns of Windsor and Burke—creating a 200-acre contiguous parcel.

Dane County Supervisor Tim Kiefer said there are three benefits to the new acquisition: flood prevention, improving lake water quality and preserving open space.

“There is going to be significant population growth in Dane County and blocking off area like this that have significant recreational potential along the Yahara River are going to be really important,” Kiefer said.


Elementary school works to preserve forest in school’s backyard

Lake View Elementary School is raising money to save their outdoor classroom.

The following article was published by WISC-TV on June 8, 2017. 

MADISON, Wis. – A Madison elementary school is taking steps to preserve a forest in the school’s backyard.

Lake View Elementary School was built in an oak woodland, which students use as a living laboratory.

School officials noticed an apartment complex was supposed to be built nearby and reached out to the Natural Heritage Land Trust to help them protect and buy the land.

The school, along with the trust, has been raising money to buy the land from Habitat for Humanity.

“We protect special places, and this is a special place,” said Heidi Habeger, with the Natural Heritage Land Trust. “They were hoping that we could help them buy a piece of land that they could add to their outdoor classroom.”

The trust is very close to reaching its goal of raising $161,000. So far, it’s raised $110,000.

After the trust purchases the land, it will then donate it to the school to use for its outdoor classrooms. The land will become the Lake View Elementary School Forest.

Donations can be made at Click on the “donate now” button and mention the donation is for the Lake View project.

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