Archived entries for Door County Land Trust

Representatives Loudenbeck, Kitchens, and Novak are the Policymakers of the Year

Representatives Amy Loudenbeck (R- Clinton), Joel Kitchens (R- Sturgeon Bay), and Todd Novak (R- Dodgeville) championed the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program in the last state budget – vocally supporting Stewardship with members of their caucus and actively participating in a working group that successfully negotiated a compromise restoring Stewardship funding to $33 million per year.

Photo by Althea Dotzour Photography

From early on in the state budget, Representative Kitchens engaged the land trust community—meeting with constituents and stakeholders at the Door County Land Trust office and communicating regularly with helpful insights about the state budget.  Rep. Kitchens voiced his strong support for Stewardship early and often in the process.

Representative Joel Kitchens (R- Sturgeon Bay). Photo by Althea Dotzour Photography

Representative Novak, who also serves as the Mayor of Dodgeville, has been a consistent proponent of Stewardship during his first term in the legislature and is quick to articulate the program’s importance to his district, which includes popular areas like the Lower Wisconsin Riverway and Governor Dodge State Park.  Rep. Novak spoke at length with both opponents and proponents of Stewardship to help find middle-ground.

Representative Representative Todd Novak (R- Dodgeville). Photo by Althea Dotzour Photography

Representative Loudenbeck sits on the powerful Joint Committee on Finance and took the lead on natural resources issues in the state budget.  Rep. Loudenbeck engaged with a wide range of stakeholders including land trust leaders in her district.  She studied the details of the Stewardship Program and initiated a productive dialogue with her colleagues, working hard to find a compromise with fellow members of the Joint Committee on Finance. In her role, she was instrumental in the outcome of the state budget.

Representative Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R- Clinton). Photo by Althea Dotzour Photography.

For all of these reasons and more, Gathering Waters is thrilled to honor these three outstanding leaders with Policymaker of the Year awards, on September 24th, at the Monona Terrace in Madison. Find out more about this event or RSVP on our website! 

Dan Burke, 2015 Conservationist of the Year

Dan Burke, Executive Director of Door County Land Trust (DCLT), has been helping DCLT become a treasured and highly respected institution for nearly 20 years. Under his leadership, DCLT has preserved over 7,000 acres of land in one of the state’s most beautiful and ecologically diverse counties, and has grown its membership to over 2,200.

Photo credit: J Schartner

His dedication and leadership skills have been crucial to DCLT’s success. He has led many challenging easement negotiations and spearheaded efforts to raise the funds needed to further the organization’s mission.  He’s built a talented and capable staff, and forged strong working partnerships with numerous conservation groups, enabling them to more effectively preserve Door County’s shoreline, wetlands, habitat and scenic areas through collaboration, leveraging each other’s skills and resources. This has strengthened land conservation as a whole in northern Wisconsin and it provides public accessibility to natural areas and outdoor recreation to thousands of people each year.

Photo taken at Three Springs Preserve, a special place protected by Door County Land Trust. Photo credit: J Schartner

“While many people have contributed to the success of the Door County Land Trust, Dan’s visionary and dedicated leadership, and his ability to communicate, negotiate, structure, fund, and complete complex transactions, has been crucial. Dan’s ability to work cooperatively with land owners, communities, government officials and donors has resulted in a steady stream of truly great projects. Without Dan, and the Land Trust he has built, long-term preservation of this precious area would be very much at risk. Instead, it will benefit many generations to come.” Roy Thilly

For all of these reasons and more, Gathering Waters is thrilled to honor Dan Burke with a Conservationist of the Year Award, on September 24th, at the Monona Terrace in Madison. Find out more about this event or RSVP on our website! 

Sense of Identity & Source of Revenue

Terrie Cooper, a lifelong resident of Door County, considered the view from the top of the bluff in the town of Liberty Grove, saying, “I grew up in Ellison Bay. This is my home. The Grand View property was an iconic view that we had all known and loved. It identified our community. I don’t think anybody ever realized that could change.”

This 16-acre property and its famous view are now permanently protected as the Grand View Scenic Overlook and Park—a place for visitors to picnic, take photos, reflect, and explore. Photo by Julie Schartner


From this Door County high point, one can see the sparkling waters of Green Bay, islands in the distance, and sheer bluffs topped by hardwood forests. Residents and visitors alike have enjoyed the scenic overlook for many years, often pulling over to the side of the road to snap photos or take in the majestic view. Only when construction of a 44-unit condominium development began on the property did people realize that this signature view could disappear.

Beyond the community concern, an economic threat also loomed. Door County draws over two million visitors every year, most of whom come to enjoy the scenery and outdoor activities. Tourism accounts for almost $300 million in annual revenue in Door County. Though privately owned, the Grand View property was a de facto tourist attraction that drew thousands of visitors each year.

“My wife Vonnie and I drive into Ellison Bay every day and always slow down to marvel at the remarkable view. This very special place has been naively taken for granted until the past few years when the potential for development became real.” – Dave Callsen, community member, Photo by Door County Community Foundation


Concerned citizens approached Door County Land Trust to help find a solution. The land trust responded, marshaling its resources for what would be a five-year-long commitment to forge a path to preservation of the popular and iconic view. Their expertise in conservation and real estate led to successful grant-writing, private fundraising, and land purchase negotiations. They also partnered with the Town of Liberty Grove, which agreed to take eventual ownership of the land and manage it as a public park.

Through persistence and dedication, the land trust was able to secure funding for the overlook property through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and the National Scenic Byway Program. The 16-acre property and its famous view are now permanently protected as the Grand View Scenic Overlook and Park—a place for visitors to picnic, take photos, reflect, and explore. Door County, known for its beautiful landscape, can rest assured that this destination spot will always remain.

A printable version of this story and others are available on our website. Feel free to share with legislators and media outlets to help save the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program!

Kids, wellness, agriculture, and water… thank you!

Whether its creating outdoor classrooms, promoting health and wellness, preserving our agricultural economy and local food base, or enhancing flood protection and water quality, land trusts across Wisconsin are having a significant impact on the communities they serve through innovative partnerships, creative problem solving, and hard work.

Who is making these things possible? Our supporters and the supporters of Wisconsin’s land trusts. In other words, you.

What follows are just a few examples of the community needs being met because of the good work of local land trusts, the support land trusts receive from GWC, and the generosity of our committed members.

Connecting Kids to the Land

Recently, a 220 acre private piece of land, that many citizens of Argyle, Wisconsin had already been using over the years, went up for sale and the Driftless Area Land Conservancy jumped at the chance to keep that piece of land available for the community to continue to enjoy.

View on the Erickson property. Photo by Driftless Area Land Conservancy.

The Erickson property is unique in that it is adjacent to the Village of Argyle Park and the Argyle K-12 School. This land is extremely valuable with the potential for being used as an outdoor classroom and giving additional space beyond the current park for hiking, skiing, canoeing, swimming, fishing, hunting, and viewing wildlife. The location of this property will also provide opportunities for kids to be more connected to the natural world, which contributes to quality of life and, as studies have shown, will make them more likely to develop a passion for land and conservation later in life.

Wellness and the Land

Another project we are really excited about is Door County Land Trust‘s partnership with a group of Ministry Door County Medical Center physicians. These two have teamed up to provide a series of hikes through 2015 that (in addition to providing an enjoyable form of exercise!) expose people to the beauty and tranquility found in preserved lands, as well as offer health and wellness tips.

Three Springs Nature Preserve. Photo by J. Schartner.

With health issues becoming more prominent in everything we do, it’s exciting to see this partnership offering preventative care and tools for making lifestyle changes, to improve physical and mental wellness through a connection with nature.

Preserving Farmland

“We wanted to be proactive and take responsibility for this land.” That was the sentiment expressed by John and Dorothy Priske, farmers who have lived on and farmed their land in Columbia County for nearly 30 years. To accomplish their conservation goals, the Priskes have worked with their local land trust, the Natural Heritage Land Trust and were able to conserve their land partly through the Wisconsin’s Purchase of Conservation Easements (PACE) program which allows farmers to receive funding for conserving their land while still retaining ownership and management decisions.  The Priskes have preserved their farmland and are known throughout the community for their commitment to farming and sustainability.

John and Dorothy Priske and their land. Photo by Jim Klousia of Edible Madison

Protecting a Valuable Resource

Land Trusts also play a vital role in protecting our water resources; for instance, take a look at the innovative project made possible as a result of a partnership between the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the The Conservation Fund:

Stormwater management is becoming an increasing problem as more undeveloped land is becoming developed and more pavement goes down around us. When the absorption of stormwater is impeded by prolific pavement and development, it pools and runs to the closest open ground or body of water, often collecting pollutants along the way — and ultimately leads to the pollution of our water resources and contributes to flooding.   However if this stormwater is stored and filtered where it lands or before it reaches a body of water, many of these negative effects can be mitigated.

Through this innovative project, The Conservation Fund purchases properties in the Milwaukee, Menomonee, Oak Creek and Root River watersheds, where future development would otherwise most likely occur. The properties, which are found along streams, shorelines and wetlands, will absorb runoff, preventing flooding and the pollution of water sources.


A stormwater management property in Wisconsin. Photo by Nick Bristol from The Conservation Fund website.

This initiative not only assures that stormwater will be managed more sustainably, but also preserves wildlife habitat and provides countless recreational opportunities for the public to enjoy.

Children, health, sustainable farming and water management- these are just a few of the reasons we want to thank you. Wisconsin’s land trusts and we, couldn’t do it without your support!





New Faces in the Wisconsin Land Trust Community

Land Trusts have been busy…hiring new talent! We’d like to welcome these fresh new faces and congratulate some familiar faces who have new roles in the land trust community:

Corinne Dawson (left) & Meghan Dennison (right)

Bayfield Regional Conservancy (BRC) just announced a promotion of Meghan Dennison to Executive Director. Meghan joined the Conservancy in 2011 as the Director of Development and Outreach before moving up to her current position. The Conservancy has also hired Corinne Dawson as its Conservation Director. Corinne joined the team from Wauwatosa where she was working as a research technician for the WI DNR. With both new hires and new leadership, BRC is growing stronger as they continue their work in northern Wisconsin. Welcome Corrine and congrats Meghan!


Gary Funk feels passionate about serving his community by working in the field of conservation.

We’d like to welcome Gary Funk, the new Executive Director at Madison Audubon. Gary spent the first 20 years of his career working in public and higher education. Then, he joined the Community Foundation of the Ozarks as their Vice-President of Development and Affiliates before ultimately becoming their President and CEO. We can’t wait to see all of the innovative ideas that Gary will bring to Madison Audubon.


Jay Peterson has experience both as a consultant and staff fund-raiser.

Jay Peterson just joined the West Wisconsin Land Trust team as their Development Director…welcome Jay! Jay brings with him a broad base of non-profit development experience in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Jay resides in Eau Claire and when he isn’t at work, truly values the time he is able to spend gardening, fishing, reading, and making or listening to music. We are so excited for the wealth of experience that Jay is going to bring to the land trust community!


Betsy Kerlin’s previous experience includes work with one of Pennsylvania’s land trusts.

A warm welcome to Betsy Kerlin who is the newest Executive Director at North Central Conservancy Trust. Betsy comes to Wisconsin from Kentucky where she worked as a Senior Grants and Contracts Administrator in Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU) Office of Research. However, Betsy is no stranger to land trusts and cold climates; prior to NKU Betsy worked as the only full-time employee at the Land Conservancy of Adams County in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We’re so happy to have you in Wisconsin, Betsy!


Cinnamon Rossman, Door County Land trust’s new Communication Coordinator

Welcome to Cinnamon Rossman who joined Door County Land Trust as  their Communication Coordinator in November 2012. Cinnamon has past experiences with non-profits in both Door County and Milwaukee. She received her BA  in English and Studio Art from Alverno College in Milwaukee. Cinnamon is a  Door County native and according to her, “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!” We’re so excited to see all of the great work you’ll do in the place you love!



Tanya Bueter

We’d like to welcome Tanya Bueter as the newest member to River Revitalization Foundation‘s team. Tanya is their new Land Manager. She earned a BS in Natural Resource Management - Environmental Education from UW-Stevens Point in 2010. Since then, she has been working as a Restoration Supervisor where she designed and implemented various restoration techniques. We are so excited you decided to come to Milwaukee and continue making a difference in Wisconsin’s special places!


If you see any of these friendly faces around (especially at our Land Trust Retreat on August 8-10!), make sure you introduce yourself!  They have added a wealth of talent to the land trust community and we can’t wait to see all of the great things these fresh faces are able to do to help us protect the places that make Wisconsin so special.

Explore the Door!…County, that is

The Door County Land Trust is a local, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Door County’s finest open spaces and wild places. The Land Trust maintains numerous preserves located throughout Door County that are open to the public at no charge. Most of these nature preserves are available for hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, photography, nature study, fishing, hunting and other low-impact recreational uses.

A 2012 participant in our Land Trust Excellence & Advancement Program (LEAP), the Door County Land Trust received one-on-one assistance from GWC to strengthen their operations to protect more of the special places in Wisconsin’s favorite vacation corner…and exploring those special places just got a little easier…

With the help of a new hiking map and 72-page guide book that features the thousands of acres that have been protected by the land trust, just about anyone can head out and find an adventure.  Here’s a look at just a few of the properties available for public use:

Grand View Scenic Overlook

Door County’s iconic Grand View property in Ellison Bay has been purchased and transformed into a beautiful scenic overlook and park. Not long ago the land was slated for a large-scale condominium and residential development but with the help of Door County Land Trust and the town of Liberty Grove this land and breathtaking view will be protected forever.

Map of the 483-acre purchase

Door County Land Trust has also purchased 483 acres of wilderness as part of the Shivering Sand State Natural Area. This land acquisition will be the largest conservation project in Door County in over 45 years. The land will be available to the public to enjoy and will “be a place that brings the community together… where people who appreciate nature can share their common interests” as stated by one of the former owners of the property. Although such a large piece of land may be intimidating to think about, with the new hiking map it’s easier than ever to find your way around it!

Camp Cuesta Girl Scouts at Kangaroo Lake

Partnering with the Girl Scouts of Camp Cuesta, Door County Land Trust helped to protect 32 acres of historic land along the northwest side of Kangaroo Lake in Baileys Harbor. According to Terrie Cooper, the land program director of DCLT, the partnership is a “win-win” for both organizations; it helps to increase land protection in the area as well as provide income and educational experience for the girl scouts.

The land trust is also celebrating the creation of a new nature preserve in Heins Creek, Jacksonport. The preserve was established with a 74 acre purchase and will open next spring.  This preserve, among others, has been made more “user-friendly” with the release of the new hiking map and guide book. These two valuable tools can help plan out a trip that fits exactly what your needs are and even lets you know what you might expect to see on each trail!

With the weather warming up, you may want to go visit some of these beautiful locations! Find out more about these preserves and how you can visit by going to Door County Land Trust’s website.

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