Archived entries for Land Legacy Gathering

Food, drinks, hiking, and land trusts: Is there a better way to spend a Saturday?

Each year, as we welcome another glorious Wisconsin spring, we invite you to our annual Land Legacy Gathering. This event is a celebration of the incredible impact that Wisconsin land trusts have on local communities, as well as all the ways those communities (you!) make it possible for us to continue Wisconsin’s incredible land legacy. It’s a celebration of the ways we are all making a difference, advancing the land trust movement locally and statewide.


Our event co-hosts: the Ice Age Trail Alliance and Chippewa County Land Conservancy, played a key role in the protection of the Krank Nature Preserve.

To make this year’s event extra special, we are partnering with land trusts throughout the northwest region of the state. Our 2014 co-hosts are the Chippewa County Land Conservancy (CCLC) and the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA). These two land trusts played a huge role in the protection of the Krank Nature Preserve (the beautiful location of this year’s event) through their collaborative efforts with a pair of landowners (Bernard & Beverly Krank), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the National Park Service.

Chippewa County Land Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the scenic quality, rural character and natural landscape of Chippewa county. The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s mission is create, support and protect a thousand-mile footpath tracing Ice Age formations across Wisconsin- the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.  Because of these two land trusts’ hard work, dedication and collaboration, the Krank Nature Preserve is just one of many special places that will remain an undeveloped part of Wisconsin’s heritage, forever.


This event features a hike and reception on the Krank Nature Preserve.

Additional partners for this event are other land trusts that protect special places in Northwest Wisconsin, helping to grow healthy communities throughout the region:

  • Bayfield Regional Conservancy‘s mission is to protect the natural lands, waters, forests, farms and places of scenic, historic, and spiritual value in the Bayfield Region.
  • Kinnickinnic River Land Trust‘s mission is to work with the community to protect the natural resources and scenic beauty of the Kinnickinnic River watershed.
  • North Central Conservancy Trust‘s mission is to protect, worthy scenic, working lands and environmental resources for the benefit of the people of central Wisconsin.
  • Standing Cedars Community Land Trust‘s mission is to establish a farm and river greenway that can demonstrate a model for protecting and restoring field and forest, and supporting community life along the lower St. Croix River.
  • The Conservation Fund‘s mission is to save land for future generations.
  • The Prairie Enthusiasts‘s mission is to ensure the perpetuation and recovery of prairie, oak savanna, and other associated ecosystems of the Upper Midwest through protection, management, restoration, and education.
  • Trust for Public Land‘s mission is to bring land to people.
  • West Wisconsin Land Trust‘s mission is to promote land conservation of family farms, forests, wetlands, rivers, lake shores, bluffs and prairies in Wisconsin.

    Please make plans to join us as we gather to grow the community of people protecting the places that make Wisconsin special.

    Let’s gather to grow the community of people protecting the places that make Wisconsin special!

More information about this event is available on our website. Space is limited, so if you’re interested in attending, please be sure to RSVP by April 28. We hope you’ll make plans to join us as we gather to grow the community of people protecting the places that make Wisconsin special.

2014: An Exciting, New Year

Hopefully your 2014 is off to an excellent start…. We at Gathering Waters are definitely looking forward to all that this new year has to offer— we’re launching our new and improved three-year strategic plan and it’s our 20th anniversary!

Here’s an overview of the great things we have planned this year:

In the public policy & advocacy arena:

  • Education, education, education! With the state budget coming up a year from now and the Gubernatorial election set for this fall, we’ll be working hard to make sure legislators know exactly how important it is that the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program remains strong and that the Gubernatorial candidates are keenly aware of the important role land conservation and land trusts play in their communities.
  • Partnerships. The Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition  is accomplishing such great things, we’ll definitely continue working with them to ensure that local, state and federal officials continue to make Great Lakes restoration a priority.
14 Lulu Lake

We’ll be working hard to ensure the best interests of our land trusts are being represented in the political arena.

Providing direct services & technical assistance:

  • Staying true. True to our core objective that is- to strengthen Wisconsin’s land trusts, ensuring that they have the resources, tools, and know-how to meet community needs and protect the places that make Wisconsin so special.
  • More partnerships. We will we bring land trusts together to create efficiencies through shared staff, pooled resources, and joint funding opportunities. We’ll also continue our work with the Lake Michigan Shorelands Alliance to help identify, protect, restore and manage lands that protect the water quality, wildlife habitats, and the scenic integrity of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Basin.
  • Retreat! Our annual Land Trust Retreat this October will offer an unparalleled opportunity for learning, networking, and fun among land trust peers and conservation experts from around the state.
Topic Tables 1

We’ll be doing all we can to ensure our land trusts have what they need, to meet community needs and protect the places that make Wisconsin special.

Spreading the good word:

  • Turn up the volume. You may not realize the extent of the value your local land trust brings to you and your loved ones. We’re going to do a better job of making sure you know.
  • Put it in writing. This fall, in honor of the twenty years we have been working to strengthen land trusts, we will be publishing a collection of stories, highlighting the many ways land trusts benefit Wisconsin’s collective health, economy and education.
  • Let’s Party! Our annual Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration is happening September 26th. It’s definitely the place to be if you’re interested in Wisconsin land conservation. And on May 3rd, we’ll be honoring you and others who make it possible for us to continue Wisconsin’s incredible land legacy, at our annual Land Legacy Gathering. Better save the dates and grab your party shoes.
Table Bluff - July by Kate

We’ll be spreading the word of our land trusts’ successes and of the countless opportunities and benefits they provide.

As you can see, it’s going to be an incredible, busy year.  We’re looking forward to it and appreciate all of the feedback and help we can get. Feel free to shoot us an email with your thoughts or support the work we’re doing with a tax-deductible gift.  Cheers, to this wonderful new year!

Ancient pines, local food, and you! Thanks for a great day…

Each year, the Land Legacy Gathering is our opportunity to honor the people who make our work possible – the people without whom some of Wisconsin’s most special places wouldn’t be protected.  (Psst…we’re talking about YOU!)

This year was no different. On the first nice day of spring, we partnered with the Driftless Area Land Conservancy and met in Ridgeway to celebrate the great work that this land trust is doing in southwest Wisconsin.

The 6th annual Gathering began with a tour of the impressive grounds at The Malcolm Stack Foundation Headquarters. This property has been permanently protected by the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. Hikers were able to experience the beauty of this property…



View from Malcolm Stack Foundation Headquarters


As well as the Foundation’s ancient pine forest…


hike - web2

A common theme throughout the property – pines thriving on the edge.


After the hike, attendees gathered back at the Foundation Headquarters to enjoy tasty, local and sustainable food thanks to Enos Farms. Local wine and beer also flowed freely. Thank you to everyone who came out on this wonderful spring day to the 6th annual Gathering to celebrate all of the wonderful conservation work happening in Wisconsin!

A BIG thank you to our sponsors who made the event possible:



Bay Tek Games
Organic Valley
Sadoff Iron & Metal Company
Steep & Brew


Mike Jameson
Mark & Celine Lillie


Sherry & Douglas Caves
Kristine Euclide & Doug Steege
Barbara & Brad Glass
Jean & Walter A. Meanwell
Sandra Shane-DuBow


Anne W. Bolz
Mary Clare & D.J. Freeman
Lyn & Jay Carlson
Michael Dearing & Debora Morton
Jane Dennis & Bill Brooks
Jason Dinges
Judy Fossen
Sharon & Warren Gaskill
David Johnson
Rick & Katy Luedke
Stewart Macaulay
Marcia Mackenzie & Jerry Borseth
R.T. Melzer
David Musolf & Roger Packard
Nancy Nichols
Peter & Sharm Peshek
Gene & Jean Roark
Jeffrey Strobel
Mary & Roy Thilly
Gail & William Van Haren
Levi & Janet Wood

For more event photos, head over to our Facebook page.  And mark your calendars for next year’s Land Legacy Gathering, Saturday, April 26th, 2014!

A Week in our Shoes

We had a busy, busy week last week. Want to hear about it?  Here’s a snapshot of some of the day-to-day and out-of-the-ordinary things that fill our days as we work to strengthen Wisconsin’s land trusts…

Executive Director, mike Strigel at the WLIA Conference

Ben Niemann (GWC board member) and Sue Niemann with Executive Director Mike Strigel at the WLIA Conference

Gathering Waters’ Executive Director spent last week conference hopping!  This may not sound exciting to most of you out there, but we’re land conservation geeks and love the opportunity to hear from industry experts and explore new ideas to enhance our work.  The first conference that Mike attended was the Wisconsin Wetlands Association‘s Conference and presented a valuable opportunity to explore the role that land trusts can play in strategically protecting Wisconsin’s wetland gems.  The second conference, the Wisconsin Land Information Association Conference, helped advance a current GWC initiative in which we’re exploring how geographical tools and technology can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of land trust work.


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Government Relations Director, Mike Carlson, hard at work at his desk.

Mike Carlson, our government relations director, was busy last week getting ready for the release of the Governor’s draft executive budget (due to be released later today!)  To ensure that public funding remains available to land trusts to protect the special places in our communities, Mike works to make the value of land trust work known among our policy-makers. This involves meetings with legislators, as well as connecting local land trusts with their legislators to tell the stories of how their work enhances the quality of life of citizens across the state.


Kate Curlo-Zuka

Land Trust Program Director, Kate Zurlo-Cuva, looking happy to work with Wisconsin land trusts!

Kate spent the week reviewing application for support from land trusts across the state.  Through our Land Trust Excellence and Advancement Program (LEAP), land trusts can apply for one-on-one services that address their particular needs and enhance their capacity and sustainability.  Applications were due last week, and new program participants will be announced in early March.   Stay tuned!


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Program Assistant and event planner extraordinaire, Becky Binz

Sara and Becky have been busy preparing for our upcoming Land Legacy Gathering – a fun and inspiring event that honors the people who make our work possible.  This year we’re thrilled to partner with the Driftless Area Land Conservancy — a special land trust in southwestern Wisconsin working to protect the rugged features and ancient geology of Wisconsin’s driftless area.  If you’d like an opportunity to tour one of the region’s most beautiful protected properties, meet GWC and land trust leadership, or just enjoy some locally-sourced food and drinks, mark your calendar and join us on April 27th!

Associate Director, Sara DeKok

Associate Director, Sara DeKok

At GWC, we love Wisconsin — and all of the special places that make it home.  And these are are just a few of the things that we go to work to do to help people protect those places for all of Wisconsin.

What did you do last week to help protect Wisconsin’s special places.  We’d love to hear your story!  Share it with us here or email

Celebrate the Best of the Driftless Area with us this Spring

Our signature Land Legacy Gathering is approaching! This year the event will be held on April 27th at the Malcolm Stack Foundation in Ridgeway, WI – mark your calendars and make plans to join us!  The Malcolm Stack Foundation was established in 2001 to promote land conservation, education, and equestrian activities through scholarships, grant-making, educational opportunities, and use of its facilities.

The Foundation property, which has been permanently protected by the Driftless Area Land Conservancy, is situated in the beautiful driftless area of Iowa County and provides a unique ecosystem for a varied collection of plants and wildlife. Visitors of the land may see deer, red-tail hawks, bobcats, foxes, or even a bald eagle! In a sense, the driftless area is like a fossil: it shows how the entire Midwest looked before the glaciers altered the landscape. Because this land was spared from the glaciers it includes pine relics and oak savanna as well as dramatic rock outcroppings and natural prairie. On a clear day one can even see the Baraboo Hills from the Foundation property, which is one of the premier geological sites in Wisconsin and is home to Devil’s Lake State Park.


Some of the many rock outcroppings that can be found on the Foundation Property.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Foundation property is the story that is told by the valleys, caves, and rock outcroppings. Five-hundred million years ago Wisconsin, as well as most of North America, was sitting on the equator – about 13,000 miles from where it is now – under a shallow ocean. The solidified lime, mud, sand, silt, and shells that accumulated in this ancient ocean can still be seen today at the Foundation! These layers of rock are like pages in an ancient book, each page telling an exhilarating geological story.

Please mark your calendars and join us for the 6th annual Land Legacy Gathering in April where we will start off with a hiking tour of this special property and experience the story that it tells for ourselves.

The Land Legacy Gathering: 5 years of touring Wisconsin’s special places

Our annual Land Legacy Gathering honors the people who make it possible for us to continue Wisconsin’s incredible land legacy, and offers attendees the opportunity to learn how their support is advancing the land trust movement, locally, statewide and nationally. Each year we hold the event at a different, significant conservation site in Wisconsin.  In this, our fifth year of the event, we hope you make plans to attend – all are welcome! – and join us as we look back at the previous Gathering sites.

Guests arriving at the Leopold Shack, April 2008

The first ever Land Legacy Gathering, co-hosted by the Baraboo Range Preservation Association and the Aldo Leopold Foundation in 2008, was held at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Centerin Baraboo Wisconsin. The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center was built from pines planted by the Leopold family and is the first LEED Platinum, carbon neutral building in the world. The Gathering included a hike to the Historic Leopold Shack which was the Leopold family’s weekend retreat and served as inspiration for the writing, observations, and lessons of Aldo Leopold.

In 2009, the Gathering was held at the Mequon Nature Preserve in partnership with the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. The Mequon Nature Preserve is a groundbreaking example of a restored natural area in an urban/suburban community. Attendees hiked through the Preserve’s 438 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and open fields.

Gathering guests enjoying a hike in the Kinni River Canyon, April 2010.

In 2010, the Gathering was held at the Kinnickinnic River Canyon Property in River Falls and co-hosted with the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust. The Kinnickinnic River flows through 96,000 square acres and the protected area includes creeks, springs, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, native plant communities, rare and endangered species, bluffs, coulees, and family farms. The event involved a guided hike of the Kinnickinnic River Canyon ecosystem restoration project.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance, based in Cross Plains, was our co-host site in 2011. At the Gathering, guests were taken on a guided hike of the Table Bluff segment of the Ice Age Trail.  The Ice Age Trail is a thousand-mile footpath, protected and managed by the Ice Age Trail Alliance, and highlights the unique features carved into Wisconsin’s landscape by a glacier over 12,000 years ago.

An oasis in urban Milwaukee

This year, we are excited to announce the Beer Line Trail and Wheelhouse Property as the location for our 2012 Land Legacy Gathering. These are two of Milwaukee’s most significant conservation sites. The conversion of this once blighted site into a riverfront park is very special for urban dwellers, who now have improved access to additional green space in the city and the river valley system of trails. This year we have partnered with the Land Trust Alliance and are co-hosting the event with the River Revitalization Foundation. We look forward to another great turnout this year and are hoping for beautiful weather!

For more information on this year’s event, please visit our website.  Hope to see you all there!

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