2014 Stewardship Report

Stew report small

Are you curious about just what the heck we were doing on our preserves all year? Or maybe just the preserve around the corner from your house?

You find out about it here. This report is not meant to be a perfect, advanced metrics type of document...more like a time capsule, so that future OWLT land managers can easily understand what our priorities, challenges and accomplishments were in 2014.

Just click the image to view.

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Four New Properties in 2014

We’re proud to announce that we closed on four new properties in 2014. Four!Stony Creek

We have two major partners that were critical to our preserving these lands – the Wisconsin DNR’s Knowles Nelson Stewardship Fund and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Greenseams flood management program.

The Greenseams Program focuses on reducing flooding risks and protecting the air and water quality and the ecological resources of the Milwaukee River Watershed and Lake Michigan.  The Program provides funds to protect existing and restorable wetlands and lands adjacent to important water resources. Since its inception in 2001, the Program has protected over 3000 acres.  MMSD then restores the natural hydrology and vegetation on these wetlands, which improves their capacity to soak up rainwater to reduce flooding risks downstream and also provides important habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for the public.  It’s a great program for people and the environment!  They like to work with OWLT because of our commitment to keeping the land in a natural state and providing nature-based outdoor recreational opportunities to the public.

The Knowles Nelson Stewardship Fund is a statewide program that promotes the protection of natural areas and open spaces –important parts of our cultural heritage. The Stewardship Program was created in 1989 by the Wisconsin Legislature to protect natural areas and wildlife habitat, water quality, and enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation (e.g., fishing, hunting, hiking, boating).  This program fund can provide conservation organizations like OWLT with up to 50% of the purchase price of land that meets certain conservation and recreation qualifications.

Sometimes both funding partners will see value in a conservation project, and provide the bulk of the funds needed to purchase the land.  That was the case for three of the four preserves we acquired in 2014.   The other was donated outright to OWLT by MMSD. Each of these projects furthered the mission of OWLT as well as those of our conservation partners.  We simply had to take advantage of these opportunities!

Keep in mind that there are many costs associated with these acquisitions that the Stewardship and Greenseams programs do not cover (e.g., appraisal fees, surveys, environmental assessments, etc…), not forgetting the hundreds of hours that our staff and volunteers contribute to the effort – and then there are the property restoration costs.  But, this is what we do.  The benefits to the water, plants, animals and people of the region - both now and into the future - are beyond measure.

The Journal Sentinel recently wrote a nice article about our new acquisitions. Read it here.

So, without further ado, let’s introduce our four newest family members.

The Mayhew Preserve (September, 71 acres)
Featuring 71 acres along the Milwaukee River just north of Newburg, the Mayhew Preserve protects undeveloped Milwaukee River shoreline, upland and lowland woods, farmland and over 25 acres of wetlands. It provides great habitat for wildlife and nice hunting opportunities for sportsmen.

You can find the Mayhew Preserve at 326 E Newark Drive, Farmington, 53090. From Highway M north of Newburg, turn east on Newark Drive. The preserve is on the north side of the road between the existing houses. The portion of the preserve that fronts on the road is an agriculture field. There’s a small gravel area for parking. map

The Lynn Preserve (December, 34 acres)
This preserve was once an elk farm, and as such it is surrounded by a double 10’ fence that was used to keep the elk from mingling with the local deer and catching chronic wasting disease. 2,200’ of the pristine Stony Creek runs right through the preserve. It’s considered to be one of the finest streams in the area – in fact it’s one of only six confirmed streams that have endangered striped shiners. Stony Creek is fed by many springs right on the property.

The elk and the double fence make this an intriguing preserve. The elk have eaten or trampled most of the vegetation – what will re-emerge in 2015? Only time will tell, but we do know that the vegetation will remain undisturbed because the double fence will keep the deer out. This preserve will provide nice access to the beautiful Stony Creek and the double fence provides a unique restoration opportunity.

The Lynn Preserve can be found at 1170 County Highway X, Boltonville, 53090. From State Road 144 north of West Bend, turn east on County Highway X (Jay Road.) You’ll see the tall fence on the north side of the road and you can park next to the barn. map

Schoenbeck Woods (December, 72 acres)
This preserve contains about 45 acres of the 184 acre “Shoenbeck Woods Natural Area” – as designated by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. The other 27 acres of the preserve ae agriculture fields.

The wooded area is quite wet and features many nice trees like swamp white oak, sugar maple, basswood and hickory. It contains many intermittent streams and an un-named tributary to the Milwaukee River which also flows through our 45 acre Decorah Woods which is nearby. The long term recreational aspects here are minimal due to the wet nature of the woods, but it does make for nice hunting grounds.

Schenbeck Woods can be found at 5827 South Oak Road, West Bend, 53095. From Decorah Road head south on S Oak Road. The preserve is about .65 miles down on the west side of the road. The parking is poor and there are no trails. map

Heimerl Addition (December, 10 acres)
This 10 acre parcel is adjacent to our 103 acres Huiras Lake State Natural Area. It was purchased outright by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District and they gave it to us. It’s a nice addition to one of our best preserves. It’s difficult to access, because we don’t have trails to that portion of the preserve. We’re just glad to know that 10 more acres of this wonderful area are preserved forever.

The Huiras Lake State Natural area can be found at N6625 Clover Valley Road, Fredonia, 53021. From County Road I north of Fredonia, turn west on Clover Valley Road. The Huiras Lake State Natural Area is on the west side of the road. map

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The "Great Rivers, Great Lakes" Campaign

SunriseThe Ozaukee Washington Land Trust is pleased to announce our ambitious "Great Rivers, Great Lakes" Campaign.

We are embarking on a four year strategic effort to protect 2,000 acres of sensitive lands in the Milwaukee River Watershed and along the shore of Lake Michigan.

OWLT has been working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and other regional and local partners to identify critical parcels in the watersheds and to fund their preservation. Total investment for the initiative will be about $12 million.

Yes, $12 million!

We’ve identified roughly $10 million that will come from various government agencies and partners toward the four year goal. The Land Trust Board of Directors has committed the organization to raising $2 million in matching and acquisition related funds.

The impacts will be far reaching. The project outcomes will improve the quality of water flowing into the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan through implementing land management practices in the basin that, for example, expand wetland buffers, restore wildlife habitat, increase surface water infiltration, and preserve productive farmland. This project will also provide area residents with additional opportunities to enjoy nature based recreational activities such as hiking, bird watching, hunting, and fishing, and increase access to and enjoyment of our regional freshwater resources.

There has never been a more exciting time in the 22 years of the Land Trust. That said, we have a lot of work ahead of us to make this a reality. Please consider helping us protect wildlife, restore land, and improve water quality by making a contribution today.

For more information please contact Executive Director Shawn Graff at sgraff@owlt.org or
(262) 338-1794

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Holiday Open House!

You and your family are invited to join us for our holiday open house. Come and help us celebrate another successful year.

A dinner buffet of turkey, pork and beverages will be provided. We appreciate any appetizer, dessert or favorite holiday treat you would like to share with us all.

Saturday, December 6, 2014
4:00pm to 8:00pm

The West Bend Depot Office
200 Wisconsin Street - West Bend

Please RSVP to: 262-338-1794 or email: mschlotfeldt@owlt.org

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Another Milwaukee River Success Story

VDP Sept. 2014 6Recently OWLT helped the City of Mequon protect 142 acres of open space and 3,300 feet of Milwaukee River frontage in perpetuity. 

For over a year the open space areas around the Ville du Parc development in Mequon have been a contentious and somewhat litigious issue. There were a series of vague and inconsistent open space easements surrounding the River Club of Mequon golf course. The golf course owner was arguing that he had the right to develop some of the open space property.

The City of Mequon and the surrounding subdivisions were arguing that his rights were very limited or nonexistent. Several law suits and legal opinions later the City Council in April unanimously backed a compromise that permitted a limited housing development along with a plan to clean up the patchwork of easements. This is the point where we stepped in to help shape the compromise.

Mequon agreed to allow the owner of the River Club of Mequon to develop five homes on 10 acres, with the rest of the open space and river frontage to be protected. OWLT was provided a grant to purchase a 20 acre parcel and the City purchased the remaining 122 acres of open space.

Now we’re working with Mequon to establish one conservation easement that will protect all of the parcels in a consistent fashion. The easement will be held by OWLT and most of the land will be open to the public for nature based outdoor recreational activities.

We’re pleased that both the City of Mequon and the Ville du Parc neighbors recognize OWLT as a trusted community partner. We’re grateful to the City for their efforts to protect the Milwaukee River and proud to be a part of this land protection effort.

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