Open bog at the south end of Petty Lake, a 15-acre seepage lake.
A broker from Spooner called up to tell them about the sale of a 240-acre paradise in Sawyer County that had been previously owned by Chicago artist George Petty. When they set foot on the land, they felt the presence of a Higher Power; there was not a soul in sight, and only the soothing sounds of nature.
Baltins, who was a founding member of Couderay Waters Regional Land Trust (CWRLT), shared that he feels a strong connection to the earth when he spends time on the property. They were able to subsequently purchase adjacent land, bringing the total acreage to 547. He noted that the lake is in the form of an arrow, and they had a sculpture created and installed by a Navajo artist on what they perceived may have been a sacred site. Baltins often spends time alone on the property or joined by his current wife.
Baltins considers himself a steward of the land rather than owner, and always knew he wanted to protect this “magical” place. Mostly, he prefers to leave the landscape as-is, noting “nature has a way of repairing things.” However, six or seven years ago there was a significant blow-down close to the home, and nearly 150 trees had to be removed.
Baltins had always wanted to build a labyrinth but had not found the right location. This natural event turned into that opportunity, and depending on his frame of mind, he enjoys walking in the woods, along the lakeshore, or through the labyrinth created on the site of the blow-down.
Baltins’ neighbor to the south had approached him, wanting assurance that he wouldn’t sell to a developer. Ironically, she passed a short time later, and her property was sold and divided, despite his efforts to intervene. He said he regrets not striking an agreement with her that could have protected the property.
Given the pandemic, the fact that he has lost people in recent years, and that he is aging, he felt like now was the right time to protect his land permanently via conservation easement. “I didn’t want to miss the opportunity,” he said. Last year, Landmark Conservancy merged with CWRLT and has taken on an active role in protecting land in the greater Hayward area. Landmark is thrilled to instill protection on large tracts of diverse forested land in the area that will make a meaningful difference in sustaining biodiversity as our climate changes.
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Thank you Mr. Baltins what a true gift you have given to nature as well as Wisconsin and the world. Your property sounds absolutely marvelous. The natural world at its best. Unfortunately so many of these wonderful places get chew up by developers, once there are divided up they are gone forever. Along with the home of so many of natures remarkable plants and animals.
Thank you again Mr. Baltins, I can almost hear your property and all the critters and plants dependent on it breathing a sigh of relief. The birds will be chirping a bit louder and more cheerful this spring.
I have a dear memory of a solo walk around the lake in late winter, when the land seemed to be silent. Then I heard a staccato clatter and thump from 100 yards or more away. As I slowly approached the sound I recognized a large adult flicker hammering away 25 feet up a tree, a birch as I recalled. I was amazed at the power and mechanical leverage that bird brought to bear. I relished this rare opportunity for ten minutes or more, and obviously that event remains in my fond memory.