Archived entries for Land Trust of the Year

Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust - 2016 Land Trust of the Year

Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust has helped protect natural areas and water resources for the past 20 years.  Guided by the mission to “preserve lands that protect our waters, landscapes, and natural habitats for this and future generations,” the Land Trust has helped conserve thousands of acres.  By blending education, collaboration and outreach efforts with landowners, government agencies and conservation organizations, the Land Trust is ensuring that special places in Northeast Wisconsin will remain that way.

Guckenberg-Sturm Preserve – 48 protected acres in Winnebago County, purchased in 2005 by Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust.

“Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust recognizes that the first step toward protecting land is helping landowners learn about and build a relationship with their land,” says Katie Beilfuss, Outreach Program Director for Wisconsin Wetlands Association,  “They take time to listen to landowners, focusing on meeting them where they are.”

The Land Trust has employed this principle during their engagement with wetland property owners on Green Bay.  With assistance from other organizations, Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust has held workshops engaging landowners on how wetland and water areas interact and why each depends on the other being healthy to thrive.  The Land Trust is using these efforts to increase conservation and enhance the health of Green Bay’s watershed.

“The Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust understands the bigger conservation picture,” says Joe Henry, Ecologist at the Department of Natural Resources, “We are very fortunate to have them as a partner in research, education and conservation efforts.”

Gilson Creek Preserve sign installation – 31 protected acres in Brown County

Gilson Creek Preserve sign installation – 31 acres in Brown County protected by Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust

The Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust has protected over 30 miles of shoreline including trout streams, habitat for the dwarf lake iris and the Karner blue butterfly, and territory to support wildlife.  Twenty-one of the Trust’s properties are Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Land Legacy Places–the most important places to meet Wisconsin’s future conservation and recreation needs.

All of us in Wisconsin and beyond are fortunate for the efforts of Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust. Due to this reason, Gathering Waters is thrilled to honor the conservancy with the prestigious Land Trust of the Year award.

2014 Land Trust of the Year: The Conservation Fund

The Conservation Fund is a national land trust that has had a significant impact in Wisconsin. Known for its collaborative approach, the Fund’s conservation efforts serve to enhance and protect air and water quality, wildlife habitat and public recreation areas that preserve connections to our natural, cultural and historical heritage—all while creating opportunities to enhance economic opportunities for nearby communities and sustain local jobs in the forestry industry.

Brule_St Croix_Brule_Wisconsin__TCF 2

The beautiful Brule St.-Croix Legacy Forest will benefit the region in many ways, forever. Photo courtesy of The Conservation Fund.

Since the Fund opened its Upper Midwest office in 2005, it has nurtured partnerships for the protection of large-scale forest and watershed conservation. Notably, the Fund played an integral role in the permanent protection of the Brule-St. Croix Legacy Forest, which represents the largest conservation project in Wisconsin’s state history. Each year, the Legacy Forest provides more than 1000 Wisconsin jobs and brings in $34.1 million through employment, timber sales and taxes. The Legacy Forest also provides habitat for several threatened and endangered species, plays a critical role in protecting the region’s water supply, and is open to the public for hiking, fishing, trapping, cross-country skiing, hunting, and bird watching.

Without the collaborative efforts led by the Fund, vast tracks of land like this one would be at risk for development, forever changing our Northwoods landscape and quality of life. Nearly 76,000 acres have been protected in Wisconsin as part of the Fund’s Upper Midwest initiative. This work, accomplished in less than 10 years, is absolutely phenomenal.

The Conservation Fund will be recognized for the tremendous impact they are having in Wisconsin, as the Land Trust of the Year at Gathering Waters’ 12th annual Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration on September 25th, at the Monona Terrace in Madison. Find out more about this event or RSVP on our website!

Your 2013 Land Trust of the Year

As this year’s Land Trust of the Year, The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) have truly earned their title. They have ensured the perpetuation and recovery of nearly 4,000 acres of native prairie, oak savanna and other associated ecosystems of the Upper Midwest through protection, restoration, management and education. Since TPE’s incorporation in 1987 when they purchased their first 13 acre property, TPE has closed countless projects and permanently protected thousands of acres of land.

TPE employs a strong grassroots approach throughout multiple states, working openly & cooperatively with private landowners and other private and public conservation groups, to carry out its mission. The structure of TPE’s chapters allows for local decision-making and priority-setting, which perpetuates its member-strong initiative. Their cooperative action with groups such as the WI DNR, US Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, as well as many others, helps them to stretch their mission to its limits and expand their reach to help communities and protect places that may not have been protected otherwise.

In addition to recognizing TPE, we are extending a special nod to Rich Henderson for his inspiring commitment and contributions to the organization. As one of the founding members of TPE, Rich has served in nearly every role on the Board of Directors and has served as President for nearly a decade. Rich has been instrumental in TPE’s development and has touched the souls of conservation-minded citizens across the Midwest.

Rich Henderson at a 2007 dedication ceremony for Schurch-Thomson Prairie.


Please join us as we honor The Prairie Enthusiasts’ many achievements at our annual Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration from 5:30 to 8:30 on September 26th at the Monona Terrace in Madison.

2012 Land Trust of the Year

This year we’re thrilled to recognize one of our most unique lands trusts as our 2012 Land Trust of the Year, the River Revitalization Foundation (RRF).  RRF stands out among its Wisconsin cohorts as one of the few land trusts in the state that works solely to protect urban lands.  Working within the City of Milwaukee, RRF prioritizes the protection of the land bordering the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers to create a parkway for recreation and education, to revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods, and to improve water quality.

Since its founding in 1994, RRF has protected 16 acres in Milwaukee.  This may seem like small change, but it comes with a steep price tag.  Land prices in urban Milwaukee are among the highest in the state, and the parcels are among the smallest, but bring great value to the people living nearby.  But these challenges haven’t slowed RRF’s progress or dampened their commitment.

In fact, these challenges have pushed RRF to become incredibly adept at creating successful partnerships to benefit the community.  By working with stakeholders like local agencies and community youth groups, RRF is illustrating the synergies that exist between land conservation and urban development.

This year, RRF closed on one of its most ambitious projects to date.  Just last month RRF secured a $1.6 million land donation from the estate of the late Pieter Y. Godfrey. This 4.5 acre parcel, adjacent to Riverside Park along the Milwaukee River, is a critical piece of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.  The River Revitalization Foundation, with the Urban Ecology Center, is a partner in the creation of the first urban arboretum of its kind in Milwaukee. The land gift will serve as a match for additional acquisitions in the river valley within the Milwaukee River Greenway.

Before and after image of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum

This is just one example of the creative and inspiring work being done by this land trust in an unconventional, and often overlooked, environment.  We’re honored to bring to them the recognition that they deserve and hope you’ll join us in thanking them for the positive impact they’re having on Milwaukee’s landscape.

Please join us on October 4 at the Monona Terrace in Madison when we recognize the River Revitalization Foundation and the other winners of Gathering Waters Conservancy’s Land Conservation Leadership Awards.

All In An Excellent Day’s Work

On July 28th we packed the GWC staffers into a minivan and headed up to the West Bend area to do some field work on one of Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust’s fee-title properties.  We feel lucky to work with and for land trusts, whether it’s in our offices finding solutions to administrative and strategic issues or by pulling thistles and burdock in former pastures.  To us it represents another way people can help land trusts do their work better.

On this particular steamy Friday we all benefited from the experience; the land trust gained a few more volunteers and we spent a terrific day amongst friends getting our hands dirty.  We see as much value in protecting land as in stewarding it.  To be able to participate in this work is an honor and also fun.

OWLT has a full calendar of volunteer activities and events all summer long.  They’re also our pick for Land Trust of the Year and will be coming down to Madison on September 29th to celebrate with us.  One way or another, we encourage you to join us in celebrating this organization’s great work protecting the places that make Wisconsin special in Ozaukee and Washington Counties.

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