Bryan Pierce: Winner of the 2019 Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award

An older white man with glasses and a mustache standing outside in front of trees.

Bryan Pierce of northern Wisconsin has built an incredible conservation legacy throughout Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Florence, Iron, Price, and northern Langlade Counties. He founded the Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) in 2001 and went on to lead the organization for 18 years. His approach centered on sustainability, community cooperation, long-term thinking, and integrity—all resulting in the protection of over 13,000 acres of forestland and 70 miles of shoreline. With Bryan’s recent retirement from his role with the land trust, Gathering Waters presents him with the 2019 Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of service to the land trust community.

Bryan’s focus on community cooperation has been particularly impressive. Through teaching environmental courses and working with local governments—sometimes dealing with difficult and sensitive issues, he has always been committed to helping people understand the environmental and economic value of saving Wisconsin’s natural areas. In fact, his efforts made land conservation popular, desirable, and fun in an area of Wisconsin rich in natural resources.

As his former colleague, Bob Martini, puts it: “Bryan has actively served on just about any effort that might improve the community where he lives. His willingness to work effectively with so many groups has highlighted his talents, forged connections with just about every environmental and social group in northern Wisconsin, and demonstrated that he can be trusted in difficult and sensitive situations…. He is a living example of how one person can lead hundreds of people to form an organization, raise money, protect land, and do it without polarization in a way that makes everyone involved feel like a winner. It’s hard to express how revered and respected he is among the people of this area.”

But Bryan’s legacy extends beyond northern Wisconsin; indeed, he has thoughtfully and systematically helped set the greater land trust community up for success. One example is the Succession Plan he began developing once he saw retirement on the horizon. The plan was meant to help NWLT continue on with as little disruption as possible. It proved to be an incredibly helpful tool that could be tailored to many other organizations. Bryan and NWLT were happy to share it with Wisconsin’s other land trusts at the 2019 Wisconsin Land Trust Conference and it will surely be utilized as a template for success by others in the years to come.

While Bryan’s presence in the NWLT office and the greater conservation community will surely be missed, people throughout Wisconsin will enjoy the results of his influence and commitment to land and water protection for generations.

To hear more about Bryan Pierce’s accomplishments, listen to Ben Meyer’s story on WXPR, published on October 15, 2019.

Bryan will receive the 2019 Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award at Gathering Waters’ Land Conservation Leadership Award Celebration at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin on September 26, 2019.