Water has always been an important part of Roger Dreher’s life. As a boy growing up in Shawano, he would paddle a duck skiff across the Wolf River and camp overnight with a friend. He spent time at the family cabin on Lake Metonga for nearly 50 years, and paddled Wisconsin rivers including the Flambeau, Brule, Namekagon, and St. Croix.
A career as an aerospace engineer landed Roger in the Twin Cities with his wife Nancy, who was a lawyer and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge. The family enjoyed downhill skiing which brought them to stay near Cable and take day trips to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; he joked that “Telemark was a bunny hill for my son.” They eventually purchased land on Lake Wilipyro south of Drummond and built their own cabin, the shell of which was finished in 1985, and he gradually constructed and re-worked the interior and exterior over the next 35 years, perennially saying ‘it’s done, but –.’
Roger’s enthusiasm for water never waned, as he collected several canoes through the years and built two Ojibwe replicas, using locally harvested birchbark, including a 20-foot-long piece that ran the length of the first canoe. “As an engineer, the ingenuity of Native Americans greatly impressed me,” he said.
As he settled into his Wisconsin home, Roger put his energy toward volunteering to protect water resources with the Tri Lakes Protective Association, the Northwest Lakes Conference, and the Bayfield County Lakes Forum. He became involved with Bayfield Regional Conservancy and others to amend shoreline zoning in Bayfield County, with the goal to protect natural resources in an area that was rapidly drawing more tourists. While they were successful in substantially improving restrictions, the improvements were undone by a change in control of the state legislature. Roger was disheartened, but quickly recognized the value of permanent land protection. He was recruited to join the Board of Directors of the Bayfield Regional Conservancy (now Landmark Conservancy) and served for 10 years.
During this time, Roger pursued a conservation easement on his property and engaged two other landowners to follow suit. He was a proponent of strong board governance and understood the important fiduciary responsibility of his role. Roger continues to be a key supporter of conservation and particularly delights in Landmark’s protection of wild, unspoiled landscapes in our northern region. In addition to his annual support and gifts to special projects, Roger has made a provision for Landmark in his will as a Legacy Circle Member. He stated, “there’s more systematic pursuit of conservation easement opportunities than there ever was, because we’ve zeroed in on where those projects are most valuable.”
Land protection and public access opportunities are not possible without support from individuals like Roger Dreher. Landmark Board and Staff are grateful for the generous community that continues to propel our work forward!