Archived entries for land conservation

The Call of the Whip-poor-will

The forest is quiet – the floor is littered with last season’s fallen leaves.

You can barely hear the ripple of the creek where the clean, clear water flows across the rocks.

Shhh, listen.  Can you hear it?

Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will.

The call of the Whip-poor-will.

Look.  Over there on the side of road the bulldozers quietly, patiently, sit in wait.

whip (1)

The whip-poor-will.

Thump, thump.  There’s a knock on the farm house door. Vicky isn’t expecting anyone.  She wipes her hands and pulls the curtain back.  Vicky doesn’t recognize the man in the suit with the clipboard of papers under his arm.

She opens the door. “Can I help you?”

“Good afternoon.” John explains that he is from Hi Crush, the sand mining company. “Your farm has the prime sand we are looking for and we’re willing to pay you handsomely for it.  The papers are all ready, just sign here.”

Vicky’s face becomes ashen.  “This farm has been in my family for well over 30 years. My son has spent years restoring that prairie you call a sand mine.”

“This farm is not for sale!” Vicky closes the door.

temp Looking-Toward-the-Baraboo-Hills

Photo credit: Prairie Hill Farm

Vicky spends the evening worrying about the future of her family farm.  Tossing and turning, she barely sleeps that night. While she lays awake she can hear it.

Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will.

When she wakes up in the morning Vicky remembers an article she read in her local paper about protecting land. She digs through the papers on her desk until she finds the one she is looking for.  Vicky re-reads the article.

Then she picks up her phone and calls Mississippi Valley Conservancy!

Vicky talks about her farm with Abbie. She talks about the years her kids spent growing up on it. She remembers how they loved to go down to the creek with their city cousins and splash in the water.  She remembers how they would come back to the house muddy and exhausted, but with grins from ear to ear.

And Vicky talks about the wildlife and plants that still call her farm home.

Photo credit: Susan Penning

Photo credit: Susan Penning

Over the next few months, Vicky works with the team at Mississippi Valley Conservancy.  She tells us how important protecting her farm forever is to her, her kids, and her grandkids.  She talks about the clean, clear water that runs through the creek below. And she talks about the Whip-poor-will, and the other animals that live on her farm.

Today, Vicky is at peace knowing her family farm is protected from development forever through a conservation agreement with Mississippi Valley Conservancy.

Because of this agreement, Vicky’s grandkids and great grandkids will splash through the stream and come back to the house wet, muddy and happily, exhausted.

Because of this agreement, Vicky and her family will continue to hear the call of the Whip-poor-will as it drifts through the valleys and across the forest floor - for generations to come.

Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will.

Story by: Carol Abrahamzon, Executive Director, Mississippi Valley Conservancy

Connecting Families and Kids to Nature in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area

Established in 2000, the Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC) works to protect the rural landscape and quality of life in southwestern Wisconsin including the protection of farms, forests, grasslands, wetlands, soils and the natural beauty of the region.

In just two years since joining DALC as the sole part-time executive director, David Clutter has ushered this land trust into a period of growth.  Following the recent hire of DALC’s third staff person, their new land protection associate, this organization is tackling some exciting new initiatives.

A New Project Brings Family Together
DALC’s most recent project involved the protection of Barbara Smith’s 58-acre property. Barb’s land (which includes beautiful and unique remnant prairie and oak savanna) is bridging the gap between the generations and providing her family with shared experiences that bring  them closer together.  In July of this year Barb and her family chose to permanently protect the parcel, while keeping it on the tax rolls so that it can be passed along to the next generation.

Connecting Kids With Nature
DALC recently kicked off a new project that focuses on creating positive and joyful outdoor experiences for kids ages 6-11. They based this program on research that shows kids are becoming more and more disconnected from the natural world and are unlikely to share a passion for the land and conservation. The Explorers program gets kids into nature, having fun, and hopefully finding that sense of wonder many of us felt as children . . . and still do as adults. If you have questions and/or know of someone with a child that could benefit from this experience, please feel free to contact the staff at Driftless.

To learn more or support this great organization, consult the Driftless Area Land Conservancy’s website.


Another Great Year for the Land Legacy Gathering!

Each year, the Land Legacy Gathering is our opportunity to honor the people who make it possible for us to continue Wisconsin’s incredible land legacy and help preserve the places that make Wisconsin special. This year was no different. For our 5th annual Gathering, we partnered with the River Revitalization Foundation and the Land Trust Alliance and met in Milwaukee to celebrate the fruits of what partnerships at the local, state, and national level can accomplish.

The 5th annual Gathering consisted of a tour of land that was conserved through great partnerships; the Beerline Trail and Wheelhouse property. A huge congratulations to the River Revitalization Foundation on this preserve! The hike began with a guided tour of the Wheelhouse Property, which was purchased and removed by the River Revitalization Foundation to make way for a park and to connect the Beerline Trail and the Oak Leaf Trail together.

Tour of the Wheelhouse Property

Hikers also witnessed the ribbon cutting of the newly completed Kiwanis Landing which provides improved access to the Milwaukee River.

Ribbon cutting at the Kiwanis Landing

For the last part of the afternoon, hikers were taken on a guided tour of the Beerline Trail. The tour provided scenic views of downtown as well as of the Milwaukee River.

Tour of the Beerline Trail

After the hike, attendees gathered at The Hamilton for the reception, where good, local, sustainable food was enjoyed thanks to Braise. Great speeches were also given by our sponsors and our partners this year. Thank you to everyone who braved the cold and came out to the 5th annual Gathering and helped us celebrate all of the wonderful conservation work happening in Wisconsin!

Reception speeches at The Hamilton

Nominate a Land Conservation Leader by May 11th

The deadline to submit nominations for this year’s Land Conservation Leadership Awards is Friday, May 11th!

Our annual Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration takes place each fall and recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of individuals, policy makers, and land trusts who are working to protect the places that make Wisconsin special.

We encourage you to nominate someone (or a group) who has demonstrated leadership in protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources. Awards will be presented at Gathering Waters Conservancy’s annual Awards Celebration on October 4, 2012.

The award categories:

  • Land Trust of the Year
  • Policy Maker of the Year
  • Rod Nilsestuen Award for Working Lands Preservation
  • Conservationist of the Year
  • Award with a Harold “Bud” Jordahl Distinction

If there is someone you would like to nominate, you can complete the Nomination Form and a description of the nominee’s actions and accomplishments that have advanced land conservation in Wisconsin. We welcome the submission of supporting materials such as letters of recommendation, newspaper articles, photos, maps or other resources.

If you have any questions, you can contact Mindy Petersen at 608.251.9131 x 15 or by email.

For more information on the Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration, visit our website.


Photo credit: Althea Dotzour Photography


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.

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