A view of Newman Lake located on the 160-acre addition to the easement granted to Landmark Conservancy by Bruce Jessen and Gail Baldwin. Photo credit: Airfox Photography LLC
When Gail Baldwin and Bruce Jessen set out to purchase land in northwest Wisconsin fifteen years ago, having water on the property was their top priority. After a full day of visiting a half-dozen properties and coming up dry, they were feeling discouraged. But when they arrived at the final listing for the day, hiked in a bit, and caught their first glimpse of One Buck Lake, they knew it was the place for them. Gail glanced down and noticed the antler of a buck shed at her feet, then turned and saw the other antler a short distance away.
Gail Baldwin and Bruce Jessen
Gail and Bruce had both grown up in parts of the Midwest that didn’t have this kind of forested beauty, and they instantly fell in love. They delighted in discovery of flora and fauna on their 80-acre property located at the headwaters of the Amnicon River, and soon learned about land protection from their neighbors Mary Brill and Paul Scott. “When we found out it was possible to conserve this area forever in its wild state, we couldn’t do it quite fast enough,” said Gail. Both couples placed their land in a conservation easement with Landmark Conservancy (formerly West Wisconsin Land Trust) in 2007.
Fast forward to 2018, when Gail and Bruce made the decision to acquire the adjacent 160 acres, known as Camp Newman over its decades of ownership by the Boy Scouts of America. They contacted Landmark about amending their easement, and in late December 2020 they worked with conservation staff to add the additional acreage.
The resulting 240-acre conservation easement protects the land from future development or subdivision, keeping habitat intact to support optimal biodiversity, safeguarding the woodlands and maintaining high-quality water resources downstream. The property will remain largely free from human disturbance allowing natural processes to shape the future forest community.
“We’re so grateful for Gail Baldwin and Bruce Jessen’s commitment to conserving special land in northwest Wisconsin,” said Lindsey Ketchel, Executive Director. “Our ability to complete projects like One Buck really hinges on landowners’ willingness to protect important land – not just during their lifetime, but forever.”
This time of year, when much of the natural world goes dormant, Gail and Bruce have observed wolves, bobcat tracks, signs of a hawk strike, snowshoe hare, and more. “We hope to keep this land wild enough that the otters can swim, and the lady slippers grow,” said Gail.
Landmark Conservancy is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust serving 20 counties in western and northwestern Wisconsin. Landmark works with private landowners who wish to conserve their land in perpetuity, and also with local municipalities, state and federal entities to create public preserves and trails for all to enjoy. Landmark has developed a strategic conservation focus that will result in the protection of targeted areas rich in biodiversity and resilient to climate change. Conserving larger, intact tracts of land will aid terrestrial and aquatic species in adapting to their changing habitats. To learn more, visit www.landmarkwi.org.