A (Cleaner) River Runs Through It

There are countless benefits to land preservation and conservation; the hard work our member land trusts do every day. Examples of these benefits are often hidden from view or difficult to demonstrate. Fortunately, sometimes they are obvious and elegant. It rained heavily in Green Lake County during the afternoon of May 3rd. Bur Zeratsky, president of Green Lake Conservancy (GLC), was on the east end of the lake when he noticed two remarkably distinct streams of water flowing side-by-side from the Silver Creek estuary to drain into the lake. The north side stream was clear and clean-looking. The south stream was brown, muddy, and loaded with runoff silt.

Clear and a silty streams come together to drain into Green Lake

That murky stream largely stemmed from Dakin Creek, which flows through farming operations that include tillage into or very near the stream bank. The “clean” stream came from Silver Creek which flows through several GLC-protected properties that use better farming practices.

A stark example of effects of land use practices on water quality

Bur admits he had a bit of an ‘A-ha!’ moment.  As part of their mission, GLC is dedicated to land conservation that improves water quality and is also working to consider the greater community impact in the Green Lake watershed. To meet this end, GLC wanted a bigger, better tool belt, so to speak.

GLC decided to apply to Gathering Waters Conservancy for customized LEAP services to help professionalize their organization. Over the past two years Gathering Waters conducted a guided assessment using land trust standards and practices, developed an implementation plan to address the recommendations from the assessment, and determined a targeted goal for improving board member communication and record-keeping through development of an online database. As a result, LEAP is helping GLC conform to best practices for the land trust industry and assisting them with meeting their broader goals.

According to Bur, “While my observations would have occurred regardless, my ability to explore action to address the underlying concerns is greatly enhanced due to Gathering Waters’ expertise and generous support. Thanks for all the ongoing support as the Green Lake Conservancy ‘grows up.’”

 To see Bur Zeratsky’s narrated video of the water flowing under the bridge from Silver Creek inlet into Green Lake, please click here.