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Landmark Conservancy has worked with two neighboring landowners to permanently protect 383 acres of land in Sawyer County. This conservation success adds to an adjacent conserved property, creating a complex of more than 900 permanently protected acres along Spring Lake Creek, a tributary of the Namekagon River.

“By protecting and connecting large contiguous tracts of public and private land, we enable opportunities for landscape-level conservation. Many species require large undeveloped areas to thrive and fulfill parts of their life cycle,” says Rick Remington, Executive Director at Landmark Conservancy.

Landmark Conservancy recognizes the inherent quality of certain ecological communities and strives to protect those conservation values using conservation easements. Conservation easements are legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust to permanently protect the land’s natural values in perpetuity. Two conservation easement landowners share their stories of the importance of land protection in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

Spring Lake Creek 900-acre Protected Complex
900 permanently protected acres along Spring Lake Creek

Michael and Louise Heim’s property, 58 acres along Spring Lake Creek, offers a unique ecosystem of rich habitats for a variety of species to thrive. “Our conservation easement is a counterpoint to the accelerating trend towards ecosystem simplification,” Michael Heim stated. “All around us once diverse forests are being converted to single tree species monocultures, whether they be of red pine, aspen, red oak, or sugar maple.  This does not bode well for regional biodiversity or the long-term health of these forests.”

Neighbors Brad and Adaline Shinkle protected their 325 acres with Landmark Conservancy at the end of this year as well. Brad always had permanent protection of the property in the back of his mind, and when his neighbor Andy Baltins protected his land through a conservation easement with Landmark three years ago, Brad was inspired to follow suit.  Both Brad and Adaline feel that the protection of their Hayward property is an important part of their legacy, and it gives them peace of mind knowing that it will remain intact and continue to host biodiversity in the future.

Beaver Pond on Heim Property
Heim Conservation Easement in Sawyer County
Canoe and open wetland with shrub-carr
Shinkle Conservation Easement in Sawyer County

Landmark Conservancy is a nationally accredited, nonprofit land trust formed through the merger of Bayfield Regional Conservancy and West Wisconsin Land Trust in 2018, and later joined by Couderay Waters Regional Land Trust (CWRLT) at the end of 2020. CWRLT was founded in Hayward in 2002 to promote the conservation, protection, and improvement of the ecology and natural environment of local watersheds.

Landmark has protected 2,606 acres in Sawyer County, but their reach extends to the 20 counties they serve in northwest Wisconsin. To date, they have protected over 42,000 acres working with public partners and private landowners. Well-known preserves and trails include the Devil’s Punchbowl in Menomonie; the Brownstone Trail in Bayfield; and the Telemark Forest Preserve in Cable, newly protected in 2021. Their mission is to ‘Conserve Wisconsin’s natural legacy for everyone, forever,’ and they seek to serve as a respected land trust building a community of stewardship of protected lands in their perpetual care.