Geneva Lake Conservancy Receives Rohner Donation to Purchase Land for Children’s Fishing Park

The following post was written by our wonderful land trust member Geneva Lake Conservancy.


The Geneva Lake Conservancy recently purchased 5.1 acres in Williams Bay with a generous donation from the Jack Rohner family.

The vacant land will be used to create a children’s fishing park in honor of Mr. Rohner’s late wife, Helen.


Helen Rohner, with great granddaughter Caroline. Helen’s love for children, inspired the Rohner family donation to create the fishing park in Williams Bay.


The land is located along Highway 67 west of the Kishwaukétoe Nature Preserve. It is bordered on the west by Southwick Creek, a trout stream that runs into Geneva Lake. The park plans call for fishing spots to be created for children along the creek, as well as a boardwalk across a wetland on the property that will connect with Kishwaukétoe.

“We are so grateful to the Rohner family for their donation to preserve this land and to create a park that will encourage children to learn about the wonders of nature,” said Dennis Jordan, GLC Chairman.

Helen Rohner, who died in 2016 had been a Lake Geneva summer resident for many years.

“She could still remember the World War II troops coming through Lake Geneva on the train,” said her daughter, Barbara Franke. Franke said her mother loved children. Helen Rohner’s daughter and 2 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren still spend part of their summers at Lake Geneva homes, she said.

The park will also feature “story boards” on the lifecycles of trout and include a native plant nature trail with educational signs and other nature activities. A small barn on the property will be painted with a large brown trout that are the predominant fish in Southwick Creek. In the future, the barn may also be restored for a variety of children’s activities.

“This park will not only provide new activities for children, it will also help draw families and other visitors to Williams Bay to learn about the health of our fisheries and the importance of protecting aquatic habitat,” said Karen Yancey, GLC Executive Director.

In conjunction with the purchase, the GLC will work with the Village of Williams Bay and Kishwaukétoe Nature Preserve on their plans to reroute Southwick Creek to make it easier for trout to reach their spawning grounds further north on the creek.

The Conservancy plans to ask for volunteer assistance from a variety of civic and community groups as it develops the park.

“The Conservancy holds a conservation easement on Kishwaukétoe Nature Conservancy and hopes to work with their volunteers to interweave children’s activities and create an extension of the hiking trails and native habitats at Kishwaukétoe,” said Yancey.

The current timetable calls for a dedication of the park to be held on Memorial Day weekend, 2018.

The Geneva Lake Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, not-for- profit organization and recognized land trust with almost 2,000 acres under protection. Its mission is to preserve and advocate for Walworth County waterways, natural areas and working lands.