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A Perfect Storm - State of the Lake

posted May 1, 2013, 8:31 AM by Thomas Eddy

A “perfect storm.” 

Evidence for this mounting tempest on Green Lake is readily visible to residents and visitors alike.  Fewer days of ice cover.  Heavy rainfalls.  Polluted tributaries.  Rank aquatic plant growth.  Low lake levels.

The result?  A lake ecosystem out of balance.


Click here to read the entire article, A Perfect Storm - State of the Lake, published in the 2013 Green Lake Magazine (33:50-51).

Using the 2013 Conservation Tax Incentive

posted Feb 26, 2013, 5:34 PM by Thomas Eddy

Congress recently extended, through 2013, a Federal tax incentive for conservation easement donations that has helped thousands of landowners conserve their land.

If you own land with important natural or historic resources, donating a voluntary conservation easement (also called conservation agreement) can be one of the smartest ways to conserve the land you love, while maintaining your private property rights and possibly realizing significant federal tax benefits.

Click here for more information.

2012 Buckthorn Work Schedule

posted Aug 25, 2012, 4:56 AM by Thomas Eddy   [ updated Aug 25, 2012, 4:58 AM ]

Click here for the 2012 buckthorn removal/management work schedule!

These volunteer outings have a positive impact controlling invasive European buckthorn and glossy buckthorn.

It's great exercise and great people to work with!

2012 State of the Lake

posted Aug 22, 2012, 7:38 AM by Thomas Eddy

Representatives from the planning team for the Green Lake lake management plan presented a "State of the Lake" address to Green Lake County officials at the county meeting Tuesday, August 21.  The planning team shared with officials and the public issues that Big Green Lake and its watershed are facing. As the lake management plan (LMP) for Big Green Lake nears its completion, the planning team is seeking collaborative support from the County for initiatives outlined in the LMP.

Click here to view the 2012 State of the Lake slide presentation.

Land Trust Federal Policy Issues

posted Mar 19, 2012, 9:49 AM by Thomas Eddy   [ updated Mar 19, 2012, 9:56 AM ]

Several federal programs have a direct influence on the work of land trusts and private land conservation in Wisconsin, creating incentives for land owners and important matching funds for land protection deals.

Tax Incentives for the Donation Conservation Easements

Updated:  February 23, 2012

The Conservation Easement Incentive Act (also known as H.R. 1964) championed by Gathering Waters Conservancy, the Land Trust Alliance, and Wisconsin's land trust community is now supported by 300 U.S. Representatives, including majorities of both parties in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The legislation would make permanent a recently-expired tax incentive that helps Wisconsin land trusts work with landowners to conserve important natural, agricultural, and historic resources across our state.

Co-sponsors from Wisconsin Congressional delegation include Representatives Baldwin, Duffy, Kind, Moore, Petri, Ribble and Sensenbrenner.

Landowners can retire the development rights on their land by donating a conservation easement to a land trust in order to keep farm and forest lands in productive use, to protect important fish and wildlife habitat, and to conserve our scenic and historic heritage. Since the tax incentive expired at the end of 2011, landowners with modest incomes now receive little tax benefit from restricting what may be their family's most valuable asset -- their land. By allowing donors to deduct a larger portion of their income over a longer period of time, H.R. 1964 will help thousands of family farmers and forest owners across the country afford to conserve their land.

Conservation easements are an important tool for land conservation in Wisconsin and across the nation, and the enhanced tax incentive for the donation of easements provides landowners with more options and would help to accelerate the pace of conservation.

The full list of 300 House co-sponsors is available on the Land Trust Alliance website. They include the Chairman, Ranking Democrat and 32 of 37 members of House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax measures. A broad coalition of sportsmen, outdoor enthusiasts, farmers, ranchers and national conservation groups are working together to make this incentive permanent in the 112th Congress.

Please take the time to thank your Representatives if they have already co-sponsored this legislation, and urge the other members of Wisconsin's Congressional delegation, including Senators Johnson and Kohl to support this important public policy.

Farm Bill Programs

Updated: February 29, 2012

On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on strengthening conservation through the 2012 Farm Bill.  Our colleagues at the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy provided excellent written testimony on the easement programs in the Farm Bill's Conservation Title.  Gathering Waters Conservancy and several Wisconsin land trusts also signed on to a letter of support for the Conservation Title.

Federal Farm Bill conservation programs are the single largest source of federal funding for private lands conservation.  The Farm Bill will soon be making its way through the hearing process in Congress and Gathering Waters Conservancy is working with partners to demonstrate a broad range of support for the all-important Conservation Title in the Bill.

The following is a quick summary and background on the Farm Bill:

  • The Farm Bill is by far the most important legislation for conserving private lands in the U.S. It provides incentives to farmers, foresters and other private landowners in Wisconsin that result in cleaner water, improved soil conservation, enhanced wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities, increased flood control and economic benefits for local communities and rural economies.
  • The Farm Bill must be reauthorized every five years and current authorization expires this September. In fact, this year's hearings begin on February 15th.
  • On Wednesday, February 29th, the committee will hold a hearing entitled: "Strengthening Conservation through the 2012 Farm Bill"
  • We expect increased pressure on funding for the entire farm bill. Declining federal resources underscore the need to make the case for the Conservation Title and demonstrate diverse, nation-wide support.
  • Ask the Leadership of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to sustain the integrity and effectiveness of the Conservation Title which is essential to the long term productivity and economic viability of our nation.
  • Farm Bill Conservation Programs Support The Natural Resource Economy
  • Farm and farm-related employment includes about 24 million jobs. Estimates by the American Forest and Paper Association are that forest management and forest dependent industries account for approximately 5 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, produce about $175 billion in products annually, and employ nearly 900,000 people.
  • A USFWS study found that hunting, angling and wildlife-dependent recreation contribute $122 Billion annually to our national economy.

There will be opportunities for input into the Farm Bill in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.


Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

Updated:  March 15, 2012

On March 8, by a surprisingly strong vote of 76 to 22, the Senate approved an amendment (#1822) to the Senate Transportation Bill to provide two years of dedicated Land & Water Conservation Fund funding ($700 million/year) and re-authorize the program through 2022. This amendment also includes the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act, directing much of the Clean Water Act penalties associated with the 2010 Gulf spill back to the region for long term ecological restoration and economic development.

This isn’t a done deal yet. The House and Senate still need to approve their respective transportation bills and reconcile differing language, which could be difficult. The House also approved a RESTORE Act amendment, but did not include LWCF or clearly dedicate restoration spending. This is, however, a major step towards enacting this important legislation.

A fact sheet on the amendment can be found here.


Forest Legacy Program

The Forest Legacy program is administered by the U.S. Forest Service and provides grants to states for the purchase of conservation easements and fee simple acquisition of environmentally-sensitive or threatened forest lands.  The U.S. loses more than half a million acres of privately-owned timberland to development each year.

The Forest Legacy program provides an alternative to selling timberland for development.  As of February 2006, 1.1 million acres have protection through this program.  A list of projects can be found here:

The Forest Legacy Program provides grants to enrolled states to purchase conservation easements or fee acquisition on environmentally important forest lands that are threatened with conversion to non-forest uses.  Land trusts can provide invaluable assistance with their experience bringing landowners and projects to the table, negotiating and monitoring easements, and participating in many other ways.

In Fiscal Year 2010, Forest Legacy funding grew by 60% to $79.5 million.  The Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution then cut funding to $53 million, a 31% cut from last year.

Gathering Waters' Member Trusts

posted Mar 19, 2012, 9:38 AM by Thomas Eddy   [ updated Mar 19, 2012, 9:53 AM ]

Nearly all Wisconsin land trusts are organizational members of Gathering Waters. We help them build capacity so they can forever protect Wisconsin's special places. Member organizations have access to Gathering Waters programs,  information about the most pertinent issues facing land trusts today and receive free or discounted workshops, conferences and custom trainings.

At the request of Wisconsin land trusts, we're committed to making membership in GWC matter. Based on input we have solicited from land trust leaders, we have established a new set of membership parameters. Our aim is to support and strengthen land trusts organizationally and the requirement to attest to these elements is meant as framework from which to establish and sustain a healthy land trust community.

Our Current Land Trust Members

All land trust members are non-profits in good standing, have adopted the Wisconsin Land Trust Statement of Principles and have committed to pursuing sound operations defined by Land Trust Standards and Practices.

Baird Creek Preservation Foundation*
Baraboo Range Preservation Association*
Bayfield Regional Conservancy*
Caledonia Conservancy*

Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation
Chippewa County Land Conservancy*

The Conservation Fund*
Couderay Waters Regional Land Trust*

Deer Lake Conservancy*
Door County Land Trust*
Driftless Area Land Conservancy*
Drumlin Area Land Trust
Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy*
Geneva Lake Conservancy*

Glacial Lakes Conservancy*

Green Lake Conservancy Foundation*

Green-Rock Audubon Society*
Half Moon Lake Conservancy*
Ice Age Trail Alliance*

Kenosha/Racine Land Trust*

Kettle Moraine Land Trust*

Kinnickinnic River Land Trust

Lakeland Conservancy*
Land Trust Network of Jefferson County*
Last Wilderness Conservation Association*
Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve*
Madison Audubon Society
Milwaukee Area Land Conservancy
Mississippi Valley Conservancy*

Muskego Lakes Conservancy*
Natural Heritage Land Trust*
The Nature Conservancy
North Central Conservancy Trust*

North Country Trail Association
Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust*
Northwoods Land Trust*

Ozaukee Washington Land Trust*

River Revitalization Foundation*

Riverland Conservancy
Standing Cedars Community Land Conservancy*

Star Prairie Land Preservation Trust*
Tall Pines Conservancy*

The Prairie Enthusiasts*

The Ridges Sanctuary*
Waukesha County Land Conservancy*

West Wisconsin Land Trust*

Current Organizational Members

Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River*
Town of Dunn*
Twin Lakes Conservancy*

*Denotes a 2012 land trust member in good standing.

2012 Photo Contest

posted Mar 19, 2012, 9:03 AM by Thomas Eddy   [ updated Mar 19, 2012, 10:28 AM ]

Through Gathering Waters Conservancy's 2012 Photo Contest we invite photographers statewide to lend their talents to our mission and celebrate Wisconsin's special places.

Photo courtesy of Eric Sherman, runner up in our 2010 photo contest.

We invite photographers of all levels to show off your favorite Wisconsin places and celebrate what makes this state such a wonderful place in which to live, work, and play.  Read on for contest details or view our 2010 photo contest winners.

Contest Categories

  • People Protecting Wisconsin - images of people at work or at play in Wisconsin’s beautiful outdoors.
  • Celebrate the seasons - submit photos of your favorite time of the year and help us celebrate Wisconsin’s seasons.
  • Student Submissions - submissions from 9th grade – college students will be judged in their own category.
  • Wisconsin Land Trusts - images taken of lands or resources protected by a non-profit land trust in Wisconsin.

What’s a land trust?  Where are protected lands? For more information on how to find land trust-protected lands, see the Protected Lands Info Sheet.

Winners Will Receive

  • Cash - $200 for overall winner. $100 for winners in each category.
  • Fame - we will post winning photos to our website and print them in our newsletter.
  • Lasting appreciation - the winning photographs will be printed, framed, and given as awards at the 2012 Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration on October 4th.
  • A toast - all winners will receive complimentary registration to the Awards Celebration.


  • Photos will be judged on technical quality, composition, and artistic merit. Images should promote Gathering Waters Conservancy’s mission to help people protect Wisconsin’s special places.

Contest Rules

  • All photos must be taken in Wisconsin.
  • Images from land protected by Wisconsin land trusts are especially encouraged.
  • All entries must be submitted no later than September 1st, 2012.
  • Each entrant is allowed up to 5 submissions in any category.
  • Student entries are encouraged from students grade 9 through college.

Winners Will Receive

  • Cash - $200 for overall winner. $100 for winners in each category.
  • Fame - we will post winning photos to our website and print them in our newsletter.
  • Lasting appreciation - the winning photographs will be printed, framed, and given as awards at the 2012 Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration on October 4th.
  • A toast - all winners will receive complimentary registration to the Awards Celebration.


  • Photos will be judged on technical quality, composition, and artistic merit. Images should promote Gathering Waters Conservancy’s mission to help people protect Wisconsin’s special places.

Contest Rules

  • All photos must be taken in Wisconsin.
  • Images from land protected by Wisconsin land trusts are especially encouraged.
  • All entries must be submitted no later than September 1st, 2012.
  • Each entrant is allowed up to 5 submissions in any category.
  • Student entries are encouraged from students grade 9 through college.

YOUR RIGHTS:  You retain all rights to any photograph you submit other than those rights licensed by the next sentence. By entering the contest, you hereby grant to Gathering Waters Conservancy a nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to reproduce, distribute, publicly display the photographs you submit to this contest and the right to use your name in any print, digital, online or other communications. Gathering Waters Conservancy will credit photographers and will use images in pursuit of our mission. Previously published material for which non-exclusive rights were granted may be entered as long as you still maintain the right to grant us a license. All recognizable people in submitted photos must be willing to have their picture used in Gathering Waters Conservancy’s print and online communications. Photographers must be able to document subject consent upon request (any documented confirmation – email, video, voice recording, etc. will be accepted).

How to Submit Photos

Photos can be emailed to or mailed on a CD to:

Photo Contest

Gathering Waters Conservancy

211 S. Paterson, Suite 270

Madison, WI 53703

In addition to your photo(s), please include the following information:

  • A completed Photo Release Form.  Photos must be accompanied by a release form to be considered.
  • Location of the picture.
  • Contest Category (if applicable for student submissions, the name of course and/or school or program where you are enrolled, e.g. Photography 101, UW-Marathon County).
  • Confirmation that subjects agree to GWC's use of the image. Please include in your communication this language: “I confirm that all recognizable individuals in the images I have submitted agree to Gathering Waters Conservancy’s use of the images.”
  • Any additional description you would like us to have.

Please Note

We will accept digital photos as JPEG files. Scanned images are allowed, but must be formatted JPEG, please. 

Image resolution: To ensure photos will reproduce well in print, entries must have a resolution of 5 million pixels or greater (5 megapixels).

We look forward to seeing your photos!

Please send any questions to and don’t forget to search for Gathering Waters Conservancy on Facebook and visit our blog at

Ospreys given new homes in Green Lake

posted Feb 27, 2012, 11:01 AM by Thomas Eddy   [ updated Mar 19, 2012, 8:58 AM ]

Ospreys given new homes in Green Lake
Osprey flying over Green Lake

Osprey flying over Green Lake

by Tom Schultz

The Green Team raised two new nesting poles and platforms in the Green Lake area this month as potential nesting sites for ospreys.

Also known also as “fish hawks,” ospreys have 5 to 6-foot wingspans, and are related to hawks and eagles.

They feed by plunging-diving into lakes to take small to medium-sized fish with their strong talons. Ospreys are migratory birds that spend the winter along the Gulf of Mexico and in Central America.

The birds typically return to Wisconsin by late April or during the month of May, and soon begin their search for suitable nesting sites.

Nesting usually takes place from May into July.

The nesting platforms were built by volunteers with many of the materials provided by Caldwell Lumber of Columbus.

Alliant Energy provided the equipment, manpower and poles to attach the platforms to, and raised the poles into place.

Both of the nest-platform sites on this occasion were located in marshes, so Alliant placed the poles in steel culverts that were filled with gravel for added stability. One site was in the cattail marsh on the east side of County Road A and adjacent to the Silver Creek Inlet — across from the Green Lake Sailing School. This location can easily be observed from Sunset Park.

The other site is the Norwegian Bay Wetlands Conservancy, inland about 25 feet from the shoreline of Norwegian Bay.

This platform can be observed from the conservancy boardwalk or from along Bay Road. Two other local sites had osprey poles raised last year, including one at the back of the Green Lake ballpark, and the other along the marsh off County Road K, to the southwest of the bridge near the county park.

It is hoped that a webcam might be installed on one or more of these sites at some point in the future, so viewers can get a close-up look at the nesting activities of the ospreys.

For more information, contact the Green Lake Conservancy (, the Green Lake Association (, or the Green Lake Sanitary District (

Spaulding's Bridge Landing for Public Use

posted Feb 12, 2012, 1:14 PM by Thomas Eddy   [ updated Feb 12, 2012, 6:00 PM ]

Windchill temperatures were sub-zero on a cloudless Saturday morning, February 11.  Braving the cold, Conservancy volunteers Ben Rowley, Tom Schultz, and Peter Vandervelde installed a new sign at Spaulding's Bridge.  The site is two miles east of the City of Green Lake off Spaulding Hill Road.  The bridge spans Silver Creek, Green Lake's main tributary. 

With input from Conservancy board members Tom and Peter, artist Ben Rowley designed and constructed a sign that reads "Spaulding's Bridge Landing."  The sign is a capstone for the property that was donated by Heidi and Martin Lindsay, followed by an Eagle Scout project organized by Scout Jason Fischer that involved installation of a small pier and landing platform for canoes and kayaks.  Spaulding's Bridge Landing is for public use and is part of the Green Lake Conservancy's Silver Creek Water Trail.

Tap into Sweetness: Maple Syrup Tour

posted Feb 5, 2012, 4:06 PM by Thomas Eddy   [ updated Feb 6, 2012, 9:09 AM ]

NOTE:  Date may change!  The production of maple syrup is dependent on the weather. Once the time is right for maximum sap flow, reserved participants will be contacted by phone or email with the date of the tour.

As temperatures begin to warm the maple sap starts flowing! Experience the process of making maple syrup in the woods led by Tanya and Randy Roeper. This annual process includes tapping sugar maple trees for sap collection, then boiling the sap into syrup right in the middle of the woods. Taste test dark and light maple syrups and other maple treats.

Those attending should wear boots suited for mud or snow and crossing a small stream. Please dress according to the weather. Although a large tent will offer some protection from the damp, cool spring weather the event is entirely outdoors.

Two tours with a limit of 20 people each are available. Reservations are required and spaces fill quickly! This event is free and open to the public. Please contact the GLA to reserve your spot. Contact the GLA office at 920.294.6480 or email

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