Archived entries for The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

Restoring the Great Lakes: River Revitalization Foundation’s Wheelhouse Property

This post is the second in a series that details the innovative Wisconsin conservation projects that are having a positive impact on Great Lakes water quality and that will be featured on our August 10th Great Lakes Restoration Tour.  (The first post can be read here.) The tour is open to the public.  For full event details and to register please visit our website

In late 2009, after eight years of negotiation, the River Revitalization Foundation (RRF), Milwaukee’s urban rivers land trust, purchased the 2.8 acre Wheelhouse property – a developed site along the Milwaukee River on the east side of the city that included the abandoned, former Wheelhouse restaurant.  Since then, the restaurant has been torn down and RRF has been working hard to restore the once blighted urban riverfront to preserved green space and increase shoreline stabilization and floodplain protection.  The restoration of this site will ultimately contribute to a decrease in urban runoff into the Milwaukee River, only a mile from where it flows into Lake Michigan.

In addition to the benefits of shoreline restoration, the site’s 642 feet of River frontage links to the Milwaukee River Greenway and offers public open space and recreational opportunities.  The site is connected to the Beerline Trail (also a project of RRF), a segment of Milwaukee County Parks’ Oak Leaf Trail System located on an abandoned railroad line formerly known as the “Beerline,” and provides bike commuters with access to downtown.  The site also provides public access to the River for low-impact recreational activities like fishing and canoeing with the recent construction of the Kiwanis Boat Landing.

RRF received a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Stewardship grant award in the amount of $700,000 for the acquisition. An additional $400,000 easement purchase through the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Greenseams program is a partial match to the DNR grant.

Please make plans to join us for the Great Lakes Restoration Tour on August 10th and visit this, and other significant Milwaukee-area sites, that are enhancing Great Lakes restoration efforts.


Retreating to the Northwoods…

Although this post’s title may imply it, we’re not talking about the summer heat driving us north.  However, we do feel fortunate that we were able to spend last week in one of Wisconsin’s most special (and seasonally temperate!) places for our annual Land Trust Retreat.

Together with our local hosts, the Northwoods Land Trust, we welcomed over 65 land trust staff and board members from across the state to Minocqua for three days of trainings, networking, and fun.

Highlights from this, our 13th annual Retreat, included:

  • trainings on strategic planning, baseline documentation, and effective internal controls for land trusts
  • conversations with our state and federal conservation partners, including an update on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and partnership opportunities with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • our annual land trust dessert potluck (yum!) and a tour of the new Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve – the largest conservation easement ever donated to a Wisconsin land trust, Northwoods Land Trust.

Retreat participants touring Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve

A special thank you to all of our participants for their commitment to strengthening their organizations, and to our sponsors who continue to make it possible for us to offer this valuable training opportunity to our members for no cost.


We are Thankful

As the year comes to a close, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who supported our work in the past year. Indeed, our efforts to help people protect the places that make Wisconsin special are not possible without the time, energy, and charitable investment of our members. With the help we received in 2011, we made significant advances in our work to strengthen Wisconsin’s land trusts.

Here are just a few of the successes that support from our members made possible in 2011:

  • From the 2010 fall election season through the State budget negotiations culminating in June, we met with agency leaders, legislators, engaged and informed the land trust community, and worked with coalitions to advocate for the Stewardship Program and the statewide Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements Program. We’re pleased to report that in a difficult economic climate and a challenging state budget process, our work produced positive results for both of these programs.
  • GWC convened the largest ever training for Wisconsin land trusts at our Land Trust Retreat for three days of training on topics ranging from recordkeeping to conservation endowments.

Again, thank you for the support Gathering Waters Conservancy received throughout 2011. Many people make charitable contributions to organizations and never hear about their donation’s use or impact. We want our supporters to know that by contributing to Gathering Waters Conservancy you are making a direct, positive impact on the places that make Wisconsin special.

During this holiday season, if you would like to join the community of people helping to protect the places that make Wisconsin special, please visit our donation page.

Joint Finance Committee Preserves Stewardship

On May 19, the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted to maintain a strong Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and supported policies within the program that will help to ensure that Stewardship remains effective in the future.  Gathering Waters Conservancy released a statement recognizing this significant step.

A broad coalition of conservation supporters from the land trust community and beyond has been active and vocal for many years proclaiming the value of Stewardship.  These voices have been heard over the last several months and everyone who cares about the places that make Wisconsin special can feel good about the results.

While the JFC’s action does reduce the level of funding to the previously authorized level of $60 million per year, the reinstatement of payments in lieu of property taxes and conservation easements goes a long way to ensuring that land trusts, local units of government and the state can preserve the lands that support our tourism and forestry industries.  It also ensures that our rich land legacy will continue for our children and grandchildren.

Thank you to everyone for the efforts that helped us all achieve this milestone.  But, let’s all remember, more work remains as we expect that the budget will go to the full Legislature for a vote in late June or early July and then be considered by the Governor shortly thereafter.  We’ll continue to work with all those who care about this vital program to be sure decision makers hear our voices.  Please stay tuned to our website for more information as the process continues.


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