Archived entries for Wisconsin

The value of a strong alliance for Wisconsin’s land trusts

As the year draws to an end, we are incredibly thankful for everyone who played a role in strengthening Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts. The stronger the alliance between Gathering Waters’ staff and board members, land trust leaders, and the broader conservation community, the more successful we are—protecting the lands that provide so much value to us all.

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The value of our alliance was thrown into sharp relief this year as we defended the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program in the state budget. We built relationships with decision-makers, activated land trust leaders, shared communications tools and information, and supported advocacy efforts in communities across the stew

Because of the strength of our alliance, millions of dollars per year will continue to fund land conservation efforts throughout Wisconsin, which means:

  • Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars will continue to be generated annually through tourism, outdoor recreation, forestry and agriculture.
  • Residents will continue to have cleaner air and water because of protected wetlands and forests.
  • Plants and animals will be more resilient to changing conditions.
  • Future generations will continue to have places to hunt, hike, fish and explore close to home.

Photo by Alyson Tiffany

Unfortunately, while Stewardship was saved, Gathering Waters took a direct hit in the state budgetA grant, which provided significant resources for our work for more than twenty years, was eliminated. But we aren’t going anywhere; our mission and the value of a strong alliance for Wisoconsin’s land trusts is far too important.

We hope you agree and that you will consider a special gift to Gathering Waters today to keep the alliance stronger than ever.

In the coming year, we will redouble our commitment to strengthening Wisconsin’s land trusts. We hope your dedication to strengthening land trusts, protecting Wisconsin’s special places, and growing healthy communities is as strong as ours.

watch video.jpgWant to learn more about the difference you can make by strengthening Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts? Watch this video today!

Kettle Moraine Land Trust Earns National Accreditation

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission announced last week that 23 new land trusts around the nation have earned the accreditation seal, with one Wisconsin land trust among them.

Kettle Moraine Land Trust (KMLT) has become just the fifth Wisconsin land trust to earn this coveted recognition!  A Land Trust Excellence & Advancement Program participant, KMLT joins Bayfield Regional Conservancy, Caledonia Conservancy, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, and Mississippi Valley Conservancy.  The Nature Conservancy, which works internationally and has a very active Wisconsin Chapter, was also awarded accreditation last week.

President Jerry Petersen with KMLT’s Accreditation Files

Why is this a big deal?  The accreditation seal is truly a mark of distinction for land trusts because it recognizes that they have met strict national standards for excellence, upholding the public trust and ensuring that conservation efforts are permanent.

Sue Heffron, a board member for the KMLT, expresses how important achieving accreditation is: “We learned that the steps to protecting and preserving land are not trivial, and must be done correctly. By achieving the seal of excellence through national land trust accreditation, we embrace the serious work of permanently preserving important lands in our community.” Operating with nonprofit excellence is increasingly important as Kettle Moraine Land Trust increases its pace of conservation work in Walworth County.

Congratulations on this supreme achievement!


Why Gathering Waters?: My internship inspired my professional goals

“Why Gathering Waters” is a special blog series that tells the stories of our supporters and why they support Gathering Waters. Our first blog post of this series was written by Valerie Klessig, a former communications and outreach intern at Gathering Waters. Continue reading to learn what Gathering Waters means to Valerie.

My name is Valerie Klessig, and I am a UW-Madison senior majoring in journalism and Spanish and graduating this May. I was a communications and outreach intern at Gathering Waters in 2010. The experiences, knowledge and skills I acquired at Gathering Waters are invaluable and have helped shape the young woman I am today. Above all, my internship helped to reinforce in me the values of sustainability and land conservation that I grew up with, affirming my desire to pursue work that I love.

I am part of the sixth generation born on my family’s dairy farm in Cleveland, Wis., where I developed my love for the land and learned that milk, cheese and corn are not, in fact, made at the grocery store but rather come from a process much more complex and interesting. My grandfather, who had Aldo Leopold as a professor, instilled in his children and grandchildren the desire to be good stewards of the land. I am proud to be a part of this legacy, but I didn’t fully understand how I wanted to build upon that legacy until my time at Gathering Waters.

As a graduating senior, I was recently offered some career advice: consider what really makes me feel alive and pursue that. I can tell—just from my five hours a week in the Gathering Waters office and the occasional field trip with GWC staff—that their work truly makes them feel alive. They are such passionate advocates of rural Wisconsin and all her residents who care about the land. I have many dreams about the potential career paths I may travel down. Perhaps I’ll pursue a communications-related job within the agriculture industry or work in the nonprofit sector to enhance rural Wisconsin. Yet, my biggest dream is to do something that makes me feel alive, just like the Gathering Waters staff does working to protect Wisconsin.

Two adages that ring true to me come from two people whom I admire.  A good family friend once told me that our land is our petroleum, and not enough people carefully consider the fact that we are not making any more land! That could be what Franklin Delano Roosevelt had in mind when he said that “the history of every nation is eventually written by the way in which it cares for its soil.” I believe that land is our most valuable resource, so it is wonderful to know our state has progressive leaders like Gathering Waters and the rest of the land trust community. It is because of those conservation values and the inspiration I got during my internship that I so strongly support Gathering Waters.



Three More Wisconsin Land Trusts Receive National Seal

As we previewed last spring, we’re pleased to announce that Mississippi Valley ConservancyBayfield Regional Conservancy, and Caledonia Conservancy are officially accredited!  Our hats are off to you!

See a video we made about the process and hear testimonials from these land trust leaders.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission was incorporated in April 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance to operate a land trust accreditation program to build and recognize strong land trusts, foster public confidence in land conservation and help ensure the long-term protection of land. The Commission is governed by a board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country. Commissioners volunteer their expertise to verify that a land trust is carrying out specific indicator practices from Land Trust Standards and Practices.

The accreditation seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation. It recognizes organizations for meeting national
standards for excellence, upholding the public trust, and ensuring that conservation efforts are permanent.

The invitation to apply comes after many months, often years, of work revising policy, updating records, and fund-raising to ensure perpetual agreements are upheld.

Previously there had only been one accredited land trust in WI, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, so these three additions are significant!  Each of these organizations has had connections with and received services from GWC and the Land Trust Alliance as recently as this year.  As we look ahead to meeting our goals for the Land Trust Excellence and Advancement Program (LEAP), we’re proud to share with you these accomplishments that align so squarely with our commitment to land trust excellence.

Three Cheers for Three Creeks Conservancy!

Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust has added its largest conservancy ever, Three Creeks Conservancy, to it’s fold of protected land. Three Creeks Conservancy consists of 600 acres, nearly one square mile of land which will remain intact and wild for future generations to enjoy. Not only is this its largest conservancy, it is one of the most beautiful, comprised of 560 acres of private forested land and undeveloped shoreline in Marinette County.

This is one of the last few private wilderness areas in northeast Wisconsin. Besides being habitat for bear, bobcat, and deer, the creeks have their own wolf pack. Numerous migratory and nesting song and game birds have made this place their home as well.

A trout stream in Three Creeks Conservancy

The only development that exists is a few rustic cabins overlooking a series of cascading falls unique for a property this size. “Standing at the creek’s edge, I saw fish flickering in the water and could feel the warmth of the sun emanating from the huge rocks beneath me. The roaring of the rushing water drowned out the sound of the wind blowing through the pines above. It feels good to know that this place will always remain this way,” notes Julie Hawkins Tyriver, Land Stewardship Coordinator for the Land Trust.

She adds, “The Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust is excited by the opportunity to protect such an expansive, beautiful area and cannot stress enough the importance of protecting large tracts of land like this.” The extensive habitat and the ecosystem services which we rely on are just a few of the benefits of this gift.

New LEAP Peer Learning Opportunities - Join Us!

We at GWC are very excited to announce a new offering through the Land Trust Excellence & Advancement Program and our partnerships with the Land Trust Alliance Midwest Program and the Heart of the Lakes in Michigan. 

Building on the success of the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program piloted in Michigan in 2010,  we are teaming up to offer a peer-to-peer mentoring program in Wisconsin and Michigan in 2012.  Due to the generosity of our LEAP funders, participation in the program is free and available to all land trust members of Gathering Waters!

What is the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program?

This is an organized effort to match peers of similar experiences throughout Michigan and Wisconsin to learn from one another as a component of both ACE (Accelerating Conservancy Excellence) and LEAP (Land Trust Excellence & Advancement Program).  This mentoring program will foster relationships and advance learning and sharing opportunities within the land trust community.  In addition to individual visits there will be group learning opportunities throughout the year and we will reimburse peers for making one trip to visit another peer.

 Is it right for me?

We hope so!  The program is designed for staff and board members of land trusts in WI and MI that are willing to share their expertise as well as learn from others doing similar work.  The requirements of the program are that participants make one trip between March 1 and October 31, 2012, and be willing to host peers at their land trust.

 How do I apply?

Applications are due by January 20, 2012 and should be submitted electronically to MaryKay O’Donnell, Kate Zurlo-Cuva, AND Julie Stoneman.


Call or e-mail Kate Zurlo-Cuva  (608-251-9131, ext. 12).

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