Nine Years in the Making

On the shore of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Preserve, recently protected by the Door County Land Trust.

A few of us at Gathering Waters have small children at home, for whom a week is a terribly long time, a year an eternity and 9 years unfathomable.  We come to the office each day to work to strengthen organizations that have signed on to perpetual conservation projects.  It’s a good perspective shift:  when you work on a timeline including “forever,” nine years doesn’t seem like a very long time.

Last week, a few GWC staff toured a property once destined to be a coal-burning power plant, purchased last December by the Door County Land Trust.  The land is valuable by any measure - there are over 300 acres bordered by the lake and the ship canal; the woods are lush and serene; it is home to rare ecological systems found only in Door County; it hosts a thriving population of the federally listed endangered Pitcher’s Thistle; it’s open to the public.  It was expensive real estate, and it took a long time and a lot of effort to buy.

A Pitcher's Thistle thriving at the Ship Canal Preserve. Photo courtesy of Philip Hinkle.

We owe a big debt of gratitude to the land trust for their perseverance. Closing this deal took almost 9 years. That’s 108 months’ work to piece together a mosaic of funding (including a grant from the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Fund), align and realign grant applications and deadlines, and position community leadership to back the project.  Furthermore, the land trust has taken on an infinite number of years of future stewardship of the natural treasures there.

So send Door County Land Trust a thank you note because they did all that for our benefit.   Thanks to the Land Trust there will always be a public nature preserve within the city limits of Sturgeon Bay.

Thank all our land trusts! Almost every land trust in the state can recount their own story of a multi-year deal. Years of perseverance are worth the payoff of land permanently protected. Kudos to land trusts for their long, long term vision.

“Forever” is a humbling perspective to work from.  Land trusts have signed up for forever-long projects. So have we, for as long as there are land trusts protecting Wisconsin’s special places, Gathering Waters will be there to make land trusts stronger.

Here’s video shot from their air above the Ship Canal Preserve:

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Land Trust just established. from Philip Hinkle on Vimeo.