2018 Land Trust of the Year: Waukesha County Land Conservancy

Waukesha County Land Conservancy logo with a tree and yellow hills.

Since 1992, the Waukesha County Land Conservancy (WCLC) has demonstrated a commitment to safeguarding Wisconsin’s natural treasures by acquiring and permanently protecting properties with habitat for numerous rare birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and plants. To date, WCLC has protected nearly 2,900 acres of environmentally significant land, and Gathering Waters is pleased to present the organization with the 2018 Land Trust of the Year Award.

In the early years, WCLC was a group of passionate volunteers who worked tirelessly to conserve land and water in the area. In 2015, WCLC began its transformation into a professionally staffed organization.

They have since secured an $886,000 grant to restore the Davis Nature Preserve on the Mukwonago River. As a result of WCLC’s efforts, the area is now a high-functioning, 52-acre wetland. WCLC also obtained a $300,000 endowment for the preserve’s long-term stewardship.

WCLC has launched an Experiential Leadership Program that, in just two and half years, has engaged more than 75 college students who volunteered more than 7,000 hours. Experiential Leadership Program alumni have said the program helped them understand the inner workings of a land trust while building their work ethic and valuable, transferable skills.

It’s apparent to people who work with the WCLC that it’s a remarkable organization.

“WCLC has positioned itself to not only acquire property, but also has the organizational capacity to manage a land portfolio,” said Dale Shaver, Director of the Parks and Land Use Department for Waukesha County. “It is one thing to have passion as an organization, but another to combine that passion with a sustainable model to truly implement its vision. The WCLC has successfully done that.”