OUR HISTORY

The Land Trust was founded in November, 2000 with the initial goal of protecting the Island Woods preserve on Lauderdale Lakes, which was then owned by the Lauderdale Lakes Improvement Association (LLIA). The Woods was acquired by the Association in the 1950's. In the late 1990's the real estate tax on the land exceeded the means of the Association. In response, the Association supported the formation of a new 501.c.3 corporation, the Lauderdale Lakes Conservancy (LLC), and subsequently transferred Island Woods to the LLC. These transactions both abated all real estate tax on the Woods, and assured the long term protection of the property. These initial successes led to conservation inquiries from Lake Beulah and Delavan Lake property owners, and the LLC was re-named the Kettle Moraine Land Trust (KMLT) on October 4, 2007 to better represent greater Walworth County. KMLT now serves all of Walworth County (with the exception of Geneva Lake which has its own Conservancy) selecting project areas based on the quality of the habitat available to be protected, and the potential partners to help protect it.

Since its founding, the KMLT has:

—2001-2002—

  • made significant strides in removing invasive plant species from Island Woods,
  • with support from Walworth County, and others, co-sponsored a workshop on Conservation Subdivisions which eventually led to a new voluntary County Ordinance,
  • participated in obtaining DNR protection of two additional (now seven) Environmental Zones within the Lauderdale Lakes so that valuable aquatic native flora and fish breeding habitats will be protected.

—2003—

  • reached out to property owners to help them preserve their land (e.g. by accepting a Conservation Easement on their land that they donate to the Trust),
  • initiated discussions with the Girl Scouts of Racine County over protecting their Camp Singing Hills land on Lauderdale Lakes (this led to an offer by the Lauderdale Lakes Lake Management District (LLLMD) of $2 million to protect the shore area with a Conservation Easement; unfortunately, this offer was rejected),
  • constructed an Island Woods Overlook observation deck along Oak Park Road using engraved bricks honoring significant donors, installed a bench, and an educational description of the kettle being viewed,
  • accepted the donation of a Conservation Easement on the Lauderdale Lakes Country Club from the LLLMD to assure that their 55 acre property will remain open space in perpetuity,

—2004—

  • launched conservation education efforts through newsletters, Annual Meeting presentations, and hands-on field training,
  • assistance from a DNR Lake Protection Grant, individual cash donations, and a significant in-kind land value donation from the Comer family enabled the expansion of Island Woods Preserve to include the marsh area located along the eastern boundary of the Preserve,

—2005—

  • protected Island Woods in perpetuity by donating a Conservation Easement on the expanded Woods to the LLIA and to the LLLMD,
  • worked with the Town of LaGrange to enact a mandatory Conservation Subdivision ordinance, tied to the voluntary Walworth County Ordinance,
  • led a multi-organization effort to assure that the new Town of LaGrange Conservation Subdivision ordinance is enforced and thereby deny any developer the right to place home sites in the Primary Environmental Corridor when other space is available on the land being developed,
  • adopted Land Trust Alliance (LTA) Standards and Practices as updated in 2004, and pledged to do this annually in the future,

—2006—

  • accepted a Conservation Easement on fourteen lake front lots on North Lake, Town of Sugar Creek, Walworth County to permanently protect them from development,
  • developed the Trust’s first Long Range Plan with the assistance of the UW-Extension,

—2007—

  • changed the Trust name to the Kettle Moraine Land Trust (KMLT) to reflect its broader area of interest throughout Walworth County,
  • launched a Youth Education Program by partnering with the LLIA to co-host the annual Lauderdale Lakes Fish Jamboree,
  • installed the first section of trail in Island Woods starting at the east end of Oak Park Road,
  • awarded a grant from the Donnelley Foundation that enabled the Trust to serve additional lake communities by retaining a part time consultant; Lori Artiomow was then retained,

—2008—

  • expanded the Trust’s Youth Education Program by sponsoring all day programs in Island Woods and on Lauderdale Lakes for advanced placement students from the Elkhorn High School,
  • installed a boot brush station at the trial entrance and a Leopold Bench overlooking the deep kettle at the end of the trail,
  • awarded another grant from the Donnelley Foundation to assist in preparing and conducting a County-wide Conservation Subdivision workshop with Randall Arendt of Rhode Island as the leader; presentations were made to the majority of the individual Towns in Walworth County before the workshop itself,
  • expanded the KMLT Board to include representatives from both Lake Beulah and Delavan Lake communities,
  • adopted the Beulah Bog State Natural Area owned by the WI DNR for a three year term renewable in December, 2011; this adoption was through the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin “Adopt-A-Natural Area” program; KMLT is so recognized on a sign at the trail head; the adoption commitment requires about 350 hours of volunteer maintenance effort each year,

—2009—

  • drafted the first update to the Trust’s Long Range Plan, again with support from the UW-Extension,conducted a County-wide Conservation Subdivision workshop led by Randall Arendt for Government staff, elected officials, developers, real estate brokers, contractors, and interested citizens subsequent to the presentations made to the individual Town Planning Commissions and Boards,
  • initiated efforts to obtain Accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission of Saratoga Springs, NY,
  • participated in meetings with LTA professionals to establish KMLT’s Accreditation readiness,
  • merged the Land Trust of Walworth County into KMLT which resulted in acquiring ownership of their Jackson Creek Preserve property on the south side of the City of Elkhorn, which is a significant property protecting Delavan Lake,
  • negotiated a multi-year contract with the Delavan Lake Sanitary District to expand watershed wide pollution abatement programs across the Delavan Lake, watershed; this will involve forming a coalition of a dozen diverse groups representing the scientific, policy makers, environmental advocates and community representative (the Delavan Lake Watershed Initiative Network – WIN),

—2010—

  • awarded another Donnelley Foundation grant that enabled the Trust to hire its first full time employee; Maggie Zoellner was subsequently retained as KMLT’s Program Manager,
  • continued preparation for Accreditation by applying for and winning an LTA grant to obtain professional assistance to support the Trust’s goal of national Land Trust Accreditation; Henrietta Jordan of NY was subsequently retained,
  • facilitated the Delavan Lake Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) coalition across lake groups, municipalities, non-profit organizations, government agencies and local citizens working togetehr on projects to protect water quality and enhance local communities' understanding of sound lake management practices,
  • negotiated two new Conservation Easements covering approximately 100 acres of nature and farmland in the Town of Troy; the nature Easement earned KMLT $220,000 of donor credit toward a future Stewardship Grant project,
  • entered into discussions with landowners over purchasing their eight acre habitat/home site near Lake Beulah which has high quality habitat,
  • extended the Island Woods trail all the way from Oak Park Road on the south to West Shore Drive on the north (Three Kettle Ridge Trail),
  • established the Trust’s first fully equipped and staffed office, with shared adjacent meeting room space accommodating up to 50 people,
  • received US Department of Agriculture Mississippi River Basin Initiative grant for $283,500 to implement new agricultural projects that will help improve water quality in the Delavan Lake watershed,

—2011—

  • registered with the LTA Accreditation Commission for their 2011 second round Accreditation Review,
  • working with Elkhorn Area High School AP students, removed a dump from an interior kettle within Island Woods Preserve, installed a boot brush station at the West Shore Drive trail entrance and installed nw boundary signage,
  • updated our Policy Manual to fully align KMLT policies and procedures with LTA guidelines,
  • guided the selection by WIN and implementation of 8 projects within the Delavan Lake wateshed to improve water qualty due to reduced agricultural runoff and removal of nutiments in the remaining runoff,
  • surveyed Jackson Creek Preserve, installed boundary signage and updated the road sign,

—2012—

  • sponsored a workday with Elkhorn Area High School AP students at the Jackson Creek preserve to learn about the important role of wetlands to help control storm water run off and to reduce nutiments in that runoff - also removed old farm fencing that neighbors mistook for boundaries,
  • August 24, 2012 - Kettle Moraine Land Trust accredited by Land Trust Accreditation Commission,
  • purchased the Tarman-Ramcheck 8-acre restored prairie property overlooking Lake Beulah, near the Beulah Bog, with a DNR Grant and Matching funds, plus community donations - named this property the Beulah Bluff Preserve,
  • with WIN, launched a 3-year SEWRPC project to detail needed conservation efforts in the Jackson Creek part of the Delavan Lake watershed,
  • received a Donnelley grant to define conservation opportunities in the Lake Beulah watershed, supported by a donation from the Lake Beulah Lake Managment District,
  • received a WE Foundation Grant to define conservationo opportunties in the Whitewater Lake watershed,

—2013—

  • surveyed Beulah Bluff Preserve, installed boundary signage and removed homestead buildings,
  • contracted by the Lauderdale Lake Lake Management District to help develop a solution to the potential leakage from the earthen embankment along the southern portion of Sterlingeworth Bay and to help them apply for a grant to fund a portion of the solution implementation cost,
  • began a program of Nature Walks that included Island Woods, Beulah Bog and the new Beulah Bluff Preserve ,
  • the first annual Elkhorn Oktoberfest 5K Run & 2 Mile Walk was sponsored by Peoples Bank. Thank you to the 150+ walkers and runners and dogs who came to the Fairgrounds to benefit the Kettle Moraine Land Trust, Lakeland Animal Shelter, and The Elkhorn Fund. This pet friendly event was held in conjunction with Elkhorn's Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 19, 2013 with a portion of the proceeds donated to KMLT,
  • negotiated the purchase of the Springwood Property located adjacent to the WDNR Turtle Creek Wildlife Area, sponsored by a USFW Grant administered by Ducks Unlimited. The Springwood Preserve will help provide public access to the WDNR properties,

—2014—

  • accepted our 4th preserve, Turtle Creek adjacent to the Wisconsin DNR's Wildlife Area in Darien Township. This 13 acre wetland was purchased with support from Ducks Unlimited, and hosts many species of amphibians and reptiles,
  • formally entered into partnership with Walworth County to provide ecological restoration and management assistance at 2 county parks. Natureland near Whitewater and Price Park Conservancy north of Elkhorn are the sites were KMLT and Walworth County began working together to improve the best natural areas and increase visitor use,
  • hosted the first annual Spring Bird Walk at the Mukwonago River Unit (formally Rainbow Springs Golf Course) for the general public,
  • KMLT's school environmental education program expands to include Whitewater High School. Whitewater becomes the third school district in Walworth County to be offered KMLT's Conservation Field Day experience,
  • partnered with the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin South East to host a presentation on camp master planning, and led a guided walk of the expansive woodlands surrounding hidden Swan Lake. The Girl Scouts opened their private trails for KMLT's free environmental education event for the public.

—2015—

  • hired our second permanent employee, Melissa Hunter as Program Assistant. Melissa helps coordinate member communications and education programming,
  • officially opened Beulah Bluff Preserve to the public. This 8 acre hilltop natural area provides visitors with a scenic vista of Lake Beulah from a comfortable viewing platform. A prairie remnant is being carefully restored and expanded on this property,
  • completed the Jackson Creek River Protection Plan in partnership with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. This plan identifies practices and projects that will improve water quality and soil health in this 13,000 acre watershed which is the source for most of Delavan Lake's water,
  • awarded a grant from the Wisconsin DNR to work with private landowners to identify and remove invasive woodland plants and improve oak ecosystem health in the Mukwonago River watershed.