State DNR Grant Benefits Plover River

Encompassing over about 200 miles and four counties, the Plover River watershed is home to many landowners and wildlife habitat. It is classified as a Class 1 trout stream from the headwaters in Langlade south to County Highway N. The $9,911 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will help landowners living along the Plover River to conserve their natural property for future generations. The grant allows the North Central Conservancy Trust to continue a Plover River watershed protection project in Portage and Marathon counties. The grant will help provide educational resources for the project so that landowners are aware of how they can permanently protect their private land. The goal of this project is to develop and disseminate materials and educational programs that inform and encourage private landowners to utilize voluntary conservation options as a means to protect priority lands near the Plover River that provides wildlife habitat, ecological services, and recreational opportunities. A student intern will be hired from the University of Wisconsin’s Stevens Point to help guide this project by the direction of both the Project Director, April Opatik, and the Interim Executive Director, Sharon Schwab. Check our Facebook page for future events and presentations regarding this grant.Plover River

First Conservation Easement signed in Clark County

In late August, North Central Conservancy Trust and Doug Fields and Roxana Reitz signed NCCT’s latest conservation easement on a 65.14 acre property located in the Town of Hixon, Clark County. The Fields-Reitz easement is significant because it is the first conservation easement held by NCCT in Clark County. The Fields-Reitz easement will forever protect a mosaic of wooded and open land that provides significant habitat for wildlife and plant communities. Because of Doug and Roxana’s combined efforts, a majority of the acreage has been reforested in the forty plus years they have owned the property. Doug and Roxana stated that: “our goal has always been to utilize the land to provide a significant part of our living while actively working to ‘re-wild’ or restore a large part of it. With the help of the Conservancy, we crafted an easement that will protect the woods we are working to reestablish, while still allowing future owners to grow food, gather fuelwood and other forest products, hunt, and practice small-scale farming. Protecting and preserving our land would have been very difficult without the help of a land trust organization.”

Doug Fields and Roxana Reitz first became interested in a conservation easement in 2009. Because of the permanent nature of conservation easements it sometimes takes a number of years to tailor the terms to meet the needs of both the landowner and the land trust. The signing of the Fields-Reitz easement concluded a six year project and protected the first 65 acres in Clark County. NCCT completed three significant conservation easements protecting over 142 acres in 2015. Since NCCT’s creation in 1996 over 3,500 acres of beautiful central Wisconsin landscapes have been permanently preserved. Supporters like Doug Fields and Roxana Reitz, help NCCT ensure that central Wisconsin will remain the place many treasure, retaining its special rural character and beauty for future generations.


Congress votes to make tax incentive permanent

lta logoIn a strong bipartisan action, the Senate voted to pass the bill that will make the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent. This legislation has been a priority for the Land Trust Alliance for a decade, and it represents a huge win for conservation, for landowners and for the land trust community. Once signed into law the incentive will be applied retroactively to start Jan. 1, 2015. Read more here.


2015 Summer Event

North Central Conservancy Trust’s Summer Event was held at Council Grounds State Park in Merrill on Saturday, August 8th. NCCT’s annual Summer Event is a day where we highlight our preserved properties with a hike and picnic. Attendees had the option of touring the nearby 150-acre Klade conservation easement and/or the 40-acre Krenz conservation easement. Fifteen members came out to learn more about these great Lincoln County properties NCCT helped protect! The annual potluck and social was held in Council Grounds State Park. Many thanks to our event leaders Annette Klade, Stacy Pettit, Vilas Krenz, and Kerry Brimmer.

Kuse Nature Preserve

Kuse 2

On their father’s 119 birthday, sisters Hildegard and Loretta Kuse signed NCCT’s latest conservation easement protecting the Kuse Nature Preserve. The Kuse Nature Preserve is a 35 acre property in the Town of Medford in the southeastern part of Taylor County. It is situated on the western most edge of the city featuring forests, agriculture fields, and a working historic farm. Much of the property is planted in hay, providing scenic open space to residents and the Medford schools neighboring the property. The trails located on the property can be assessed by elementary and high school students studying at the neighboring Medford schools.

Hildegard and Loretta Kuse first contacted NCCT in 2007 to indicate an interest in pursuing a conservation easement for their property. Their primary motivation was to preserve the historical features present and protection of the active nature center. On Friday, May 1st the conservation easement was signed, permanently protecting 35 acres of green space in the city of Medford.

Hildegard and Loretta’s connection to the land runs deep; the 35 acre property has been in the Kuse family since 1881. When discussing the importance of their easement they pointed to the influence of their father, Walter Kuse, an environmentalist and artist. Walter Kuse’s own experience in logging camps, contributed to his desire to be a wise steward of his land, the same land protected by the conservation easement. When asked for a quote describing the importance of their easement, Loretta Kuse instead shared a stanza from a poem her father wrote in the 1930’s:

To plant the land with trees once more

With lakes on hand with a beautiful shore,

The birds and animals again can roam

And call this spot their quiet home.

For learn more about the Kuse Nature Preserve visit

2015 Spring Event

Lost Creek Driving Directions Map

Click image for larger view of map.

Join North Central Conservancy Trust for a Spring Event on Saturday, May 30th at Lost Creek in Portage County. Lost Creek is a Wetland Mitigation Site currently owned and managed by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. From 10:00 until 11:30 am Gerry Janz and Nancy Stevenson will lead an educational program on the birds present and the habitats they occupy at this unique site.

Gerry Janz has a biology degree from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and is an active member of the Aldo Leopold chapter of the National Audubon Society serving as Vice President. He credits his knowledge from being “a student of birds and the world around me” for most of his life. Gerry and Nancy teach a course at the Clearing Folk School about bird identification and behavior.

Nancy Stevenson is a naturalist and former licensed bird bander. She is the former Director of Children’s Programs and Summer Naturalist at Jordan Park Nature Center in Stevens Point. Nancy conducts birding workshops and has taught Elderhostel classes in birding and nature study.

Join fellow NCCT members, learn something new, and enjoy a beautiful day outside!


The Land Conservation Society

LCS Group Photo

The Land Conservation Society (LCS) is a newly formed University of Wisconsin Stevens Point organization whose mission is to promote conserving land through land trusts and assisting landowners with management activities on their preserved properties. LCS works mainly alongside North Central Conservancy Trust (NCCT) through the leadership of founding President April Ann Opatik. Thanks to the help of LCS’s Vice President, Chelsey Ehlers, and former LCS’s member, Becky Wadleigh, LCS’ first work day consisted of helping clear out buckthorn and other invasive species on Ozaukee Washington Land Trust’s Kratzsch Preserve. This spring, LCS provided volunteers to assist with the management of three NCCT preserved properties including black locust removal on the Nancy Stevenson property, dam maintenance and brush removal on the Starpoint property, and buckthorn removal on the Bob and Sally Freckmann property. In addition to assisting Wisconsin land trusts, volunteers of LCS were introduced to land trust professionals, and gained experience managing invasive species.
LCS’s President and NCCT Intern, April Ann Opatik, wants to achieve National recognition for the Land Conservation Society. Her goal is to establish a template so that other land trusts can create a similar club with neighboring Universities. April added that, “It’s important to have diversity within the land trust community… rarely do you see someone our age. It’s important to have this diversity to invoke all positive aspects within a community.” With Dr. Aaron Thompson Assistant Professor in the Center for Land Use Education as LCS’s advisor, membership has been promoted throughout UWSP’s College of Natural Resources.

For additional information on how to enlist the assistance of LCS on your property or for advice on how to create a similar club at your organization contact Betsy at 715-344-1910 or

Proposed Moratorium on Wisconsin’s Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program

Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts is alarmed by Governor Walker’s budget proposal to freeze land purchases through the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program.  As someone who cares about protecting the places that make Wisconsin special, we need your help.  Read more here.Stewardship Logo

NCCT Closes Year with 53 Acre Conservation Easement

On Christmas Eve, North Central Conservancy Trust and David and Trudy Pederson signed NCCT’s latest conservation easement on a 53 acre property located in the Town of Hull, Portage County. A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a land trust like NCCT that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Conservation easements are especially important for protecting the environmental qualities of central Wisconsin’s landscape.

The Pederson easement will forever protect relatively undisturbed open fields and forest, along with a spring and an intermittent stream. Located just east of the Wisconsin River, the property holds special value as a migration corridor as well as providing habitat for a number of native species of plants and animals.  David and Trudy Pederson stated “We acted to protect the rural character of a piece of the neighborhood that is relatively unspoiled by urban development.”

David and Trudy Pederson first contacted NCCT in 2008 to indicate an interest in pursuing a conservation easement for their property. Their primary motivation was to preserve the historical features present. The property was awarded as payment by the US government to war veterans in 1856.  The preserved log home located on the property served as the local grade school in the early 1900s when the original neighborhood schoolhouse burned down.  “We saw increased pressure for residential development in our neighborhood after the re-routing of Highway 10 over the Wisconsin River north of our property.  We acted to permanently preserve this rural farmstead for future generations and the wildlife we share it with”, the Pedersons said.

Because of the permanent nature of conservation easements it sometimes takes a number of years to tailor the terms to meet the needs of both the landowner and the land trust. The signing of the Pederson easement was significant not only because it concluded a six year project, but also because it was the final conservation easement completed by NCCT in 2014. NCCT completed four significant conservation easements protecting over 144 acres in 2014. Since NCCT’s creation in 1996 over 3,400 acres of beautiful central Wisconsin landscapes have been permanently preserved. Supporters like David and Trudy Pederson, help NCCT ensure that central Wisconsin will remain the place many treasure, retaining its special rural character and beauty for future generations.

NCCT Closes Year with 53 Acre Conservation Easement

NCCT Closes Year with 53 Acre Conservation Easement


Enhanced Easement Incentive

sunset_MG_4969_edited-1 (3)The enhanced easement incentive expired on Dec. 31, 2014. Unless Congress acts to extend or make permanent the incentive, starting on Jan. 1, 2015, conservation easements will remain deductible, but will be subject to the same caps as other non-cash contributions — 30 percent of AGI with a five-year carry forward. The Land Trust Alliance and its partners are committed to working to make the incentive permanent in the 114th Congress. Read more here.

A Conservation Story

This powerful film produced by Gathering Waters Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts reminds us all that Wisconsin’s land trusts are doing far more than simply protecting land. Click here to watch.


Jo Seiser Named Conservationist of the Year

John Dolan, President of the Bill Cook Chapter of the Izaak Walton League announced awarding Jo Seiser of Stevens Point the Outstanding Conservationist Award (2013).

Jo’s work with the North Central Conservancy Trust over the last decade identified notable accomplishments. Her involvement since 1999 spanned years of education of landowners and citizens of the value of protecting worthy lands from unrestrained development with conservation easements donated to the land trust by landowners who continued to own the land. During that time 39 easements were signed of over 3000 acres in Central Wisconsin.

As important was the training and experience of community members to create organizational infrastructure to educate landowners, evaluate possible easements and have events to share successes. Jo Seiser joined with many others to create a sustainable land trust to continue to do work of the present and the future.

Jo Seiser attended the Izaak Walton League’s awards banquet unaware that she was to receive this award. As John Dolan began his presentation, she was alerted to the fact that she was the recipient when Dolan said, “this person was a National Park Service ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.” Seiser thought it unlikely that anyone else present had worked both places without her knowledge.

Seiser was the Portage County Water Quality Specialist in the 1980s and two members of the Izaak Walton League knew well this work. One was Robert Schmitz who was the head of Environmental Health at the Health Department and Jo’s boss. And the other was friend and co-worker for Portage County, Jerry Ernst who led the County Parks Department.

Ernst said, “The Bill Cook Chapter of the IWLA was very proud to present Jo Seiser with their Outstanding Conservationist award on April 12, 2014.  The yearly award started in 1969 and the first recipient was Leo Gwidt.  To name a few other well known recipients over the years, they included Dan Trainer 1977, George Rogers 1981, and Malcolm & Margaret Rosholt in 1998.”

Jo Seiser was honored to receive the Outstanding Conservationist award from her colleagues of the Izaak Walton League.

Seiser Jo Izaak Walton Award wJohn Dolan 2014-04-12 tom brown-001 (3)

Clear Lake Protected

In May, Tomahawk Mayor Clarann Stocker and North Central Conservancy Trust signed a conservation easement protecting 10.89 acres between Clear Lake and Half-Moon Lake in the Town of Bradley, Lincoln County. The conservation easement protects one of the last remaining undeveloped parcels on Clear Lake and provides natural and scenic space on the shores of Clear Lake and Half Moon Lake, which are otherwise extensively populated with cottages and homes.

The property was originally gifted to North Central Conservancy Trust with the condition that it be protected with a conservation easement upon sale. Limited development along lake shores, wetlands, and stream margins is especially important for protecting water quality and wildlife habitat.  NCCT places a high priority on easements that protect these critical habitats.  A gift such as this has many wonderful benefits.  In addition to securing lake shore for wildlife and aesthetics, the value of the property is a generous philanthropic donation with good tax benefits to the donors, and the proceeds from the sale will be used to support our efforts in protecting other properties.

Stocker Group

EarthShare Wisconsin: Workplace Giving Campaign

Starting this fall, employees at Accenture, UnitedHealth, JP Morgan Chase, Ameriprise, Piper Jaffray, Thomson Reuters, Walmart, and some other small employers can donate to North Central Conservancy Trust through EarthShare Wisconsin in their workplace giving campaign, primarily through payroll contributions.

Giving to North Central Conservancy Trust through EarthShare Wisconsin is an easy and cost-effective way to support our organization. EarthShare Wisconsin’s goal is to be the public’s trusted and proven way to support Wisconsin’s and the nation’s most respected environmental and conservation charities at work. They are proud to have earned the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance accreditation.

EarthShare Wisconsin’s benefiting organizations work hard every day to safeguard public health and the environment by seeking solutions to climate change and sustainability issues, advocating for clean and renewable energy, protecting ancient forests and conserving wildlife and habitat, cleaning up our water and air, saving endangered species, and many other vital initiatives. “We are very happy to have North Central Conservancy Trust as a member of EarthShare Wisconsin,” says managing director Darren Blankenship. “They have been a very effective organization for many years protecting vital lands, lakes, and streams in central Wisconsin and beyond.”

If you would like more information about EarthShare Wisconsin and how they can be an option in your workplace giving campaign, please contact managing director Darren Blankenship at or (608) 274-1173.


Family Long Dedicated to NCCT Donates 40 Acres

In July of 2007 Anne E. Meronk, as Trustee of the Lois A. Siler Revocable Trust donated a conservation easement on 202 acres of land in the Towns of Colburn, Leola and Rome in Adams County. That same month the Siler family donated another approximately 88 acres in the Town of Deerfield, Waushara County. In both easements the Siler family entrusted North Central Conservancy Trust to protect the ecological and aesthetic features of the properties. And so began the Siler family’s support of NCCT’s mission to protect the rural character of central Wisconsin.

After numerous years of generous support through conservation easements and membership donations, the Siler family took another step this past May to further the work of NCCT is central Wisconsin. The Siler family donated a 40 acre parcel of land in the Town of Rome, Adams County. The Siler family protected the parcel with a conservation easement in 2007 and gifted the property to NCCT in 2014 with the understanding that the property would be sold. A few short months following the 40 acre gift, NCCT located a private buyer. The proceeds from the sale will go towards furthering the work of NCCT in central Wisconsin.

Those wishing to protect their land from undesirable development or use after they no longer can oversee it have the option to donate their land. This strategy is best suited for landowners who are looking for alternative approaches for divesting ownership, or to reduce a tax burden on the owner or the estate. By donating land to NCCT, a tax credit for the full value can be realized. NCCT will respect your wishes for the land, and will sell the property to a buyer who understands and accepts your wishes. Landowners receive the full tax advantage, plus the satisfaction of knowing the proceeds from the sale are used to promote conservation across central Wisconsin.

Annual Meeting 2014

Many thanks to our members who attended North Central Conservancy Trust’s Annual Meeting on October 7th at The Hills Restaurant at Greenwood Hills Country Club in Wausau. The evening started with a social hour, followed by dinner and presentations by Betsy Kerlin and Roger Zimmermann. The Annual Meeting was an opportunity to celebrate the successes of the past year which included the protection of over 160 acres and the hiring of our first intern, April Ann Opatik.  The silent auction fundraiser at the Annual Meeting raised $841.00 to support the mission of NCCT to protect worthy scenic, working lands, and environmental resources for the benefit of the people of central Wisconsin. Thank you for your support!




Rare Lady’s Slipper Orchid Found Near Rice Lake

Town of Reid, Marathon County

Last year, North Central Conservancy Trust (NCCT) volunteer Roger Zimmermann was walking through a publicly owned bog near Rice Lake and came upon what he thought might have been a couple of small yellow lady’s slipper orchids (Cypripedium parviflorum). The flowers were dried up, but judging from the seed pod, Zimmermann thought it might have been that type of flower. On June 12th, nearly a year later, Zimmermann decided to go back again to the bog and was astonished to find eleven of the flowers, four of which were in brilliant bloom. The native small yellow lady’s slipper is a rare plant (listed as special concern in Wisconsin), but given the right environmental conditions and protections provided through a North Central Conservancy Trust conservation easement, the orchids flourished.

The Rice Lake bog, where these orchids were found, was gifted to North Central Conservancy Trust by Claire Pfleger of Milwaukee in 2011 to preserve its natural features. The property is unique in that it supports a white cedar bog and will one day hold a section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The property also includes 1,000 feet of shoreline on Rice Lake, a spring-fed, undeveloped marl lake. Not only is this property preserved for future generations, it is open to the public to be explored for its natural beauty.

The North Central Conservancy Trust is a non-profit land trust working to protect worthy scenic working lands and environmental resources for the benefit of the people of central Wisconsin. Conservation easements, such as the one found on Rice Lake bog, are the primary way in which our rural landscape and privately owned important natural areas are protected. NCCT is the only organization in the north central region of Wisconsin whose mission is to hold and protect conservation easements. NCCT makes it possible to preserve the beautiful landscape of Wisconsin for both those who live here or visit here. This small success story is just one of the many examples provided through conservation easements.


2014 Summer Event

North Central Conservancy Trust’s Summer Event was held at the Benn Conservancy in Rosholt on Saturday, August 9th. NCCT’s annual Summer Event is a day where we highlight one of our preserved properties with a hike and picnic. This year, in addition to the nature hike lead by Alan Haney, NCCT offered family friendly nature activities for our younger members including nature journaling and pine cone bird feeders. Thirty five members came out to learn more about this great public preserve, which NCCT helped protect! A potluck followed the hiking and nature activities at the Lions Club shelter on Mill Pond. Many thanks to our event leaders Jim Grygleski, Alan Haney, Janet Moore and Erin Thompson and the Public Relations Committee who helped plan and run the event.

Click link for location of Benn Conservancy: Benn Conservancy Map


A Forested Legacy: Conservation Easement Protects 39 Acres

A Forested Legacy

One of central Wisconsin’s finest examples of a managed forest is being donated to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point by a family long committed to conservation.

Jeanette Rogers, who died April 22, along with her children, Jim and Jane, are honoring the wishes of their late husband and father, George Rogers, to permanently preserve a 39-acre managed, working forest in the town of Hull.

The family is donating the land to the UW-Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources (CNR). The George Rogers Living Forest will be used by as an outdoor laboratory for education, demonstration and research.

The Rogers family worked with North Central Conservancy Trust (NCCT), a Stevens Point-based land trust, to place a conservation easement on the property. This was an essential first step to Rogers.

“Dad believed that preserving green spaces in an increasingly urbanized landscape is a top priority for maintaining quality of life in Portage County,” Jim Rogers said.

George Rogers, a Stevens Point native, longtime writer, editor, civic leader and devoted conservationist, died last November.

“We are grateful to the Rogers family for this generous gift, and we are honored to carry on the legacy of stewardship that George started more than 60 years ago,” said CNR Dean Christine Thomas. “This forest has been extremely well managed and is exactly the type of woodland property we look for in a field teaching site.”

Rogers purchased the property in 1950, when it was mostly open land with a few scattered scrub oak and jack pine. He planted more than 40,000 red pine seedlings and 500 white pine seedlings, with the help of UW-Stevens Point students. Nurtured through the state’s Forest Crop (Managed Forest) Law program, the property was transformed into a productive, managed forest.

He felt it could be a great learning space for forest management students and wanted the property kept in permanent green space, regardless of who owns it.

“What an incredible gift Jeanette and George have made,” said NCCT’s Executive Director Betsy Kerlin. “This special place will remain forever forested for the enjoyment and benefit of students and the public.”

Rogers wrote about the managed pine planation in his book, “Among the Leaves.”  He harvested about 1,900 cords of wood between 1972 and 2007, including logs to build three cabins at the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station.

A conservation easement provides permanent protection of scenic working lands, preserving habitat for wildlife and plant communities, Kerlin said. Local landowners interested in preserving their property from development can contact NCCT for information on conservation easements.

Conservation GIS Intern Hired

GIS Intern

Through the support of a University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (UWSP) grant, NCCT hired a full time Conservation GIS Intern for the summer of 2014. April Ann Opatik from Baraboo, Wisconsin is a Land Use Planning major at UWSP and was hired to assist staff and volunteers with furthering NCCT’s understanding and use of ArcGIS for NCCT’s land conservation needs. April will assist NCCT’s Executive Director with learning the basics of ArcGIS Spatial Analyst software for the purposes of NCCT’s easement, baseline and public relations needs. By the end of the summer, NCCT hopes to have printed and interactive maps showing parcels preserved by NCCT and other local, state, federal, and other non-profit conservation efforts within NCCT’s eight county service area. April will also build upon existing data collected by past UWSP Land Use Planning students, by furthering spatial analyses of varying scope and complexity including easement prioritization, ecological and cultural modeling and mapping, and field efforts to support easement efforts. April shared that she is grateful for the opportunity to work in the field of conservation, a field she is passionate about and a field she hopes to work in following graduation. NCCT is grateful to UWSP for this mutually beneficial opportunity and welcomes April to the NCCT family!