In a year when the fragility of our food supply chain was on full display and scarcity threatens many, you aided our effort to add an additional 60 acres to our conserved farmland and showed that the farming roots of America’s Dairyland run deep. This farm land conservation effort provides underrepresented farmers with a pathway to affordable farmland while supporting our local food system. Furthermore, OWLT’s farmland conservation program is supporting the health of our community through soil
conservation and water quality protection.
When in-person gatherings had to be restricted and our conventional volunteer workdays canceled, a small group of passionate staff and volunteers planted a staggering 5,500 trees at Huiras Lake, by hand. We call this our “Forest of Hope” and it will provide a diversity of wildlife and provide refuge in a changing climate while storing 136,000 gallons of stormwater runoff.
When our schools, businesses, and public buildings closed and free and open access to nature was more essential than ever, three times more users visited our conserved properties. To support this increased community use, OWLT added an incredible 365 acres of land to our forever-protected nature preserves in 2020. These new protected acres represent critical land and water conservation opportunities that dramatically expand and strengthen lands already owned by OWLT (see map below).
This conservation investment is not only the culmination of $2.4 million in real estate value, but also decades of work with private landowners, our members, and conservation partners.
These land protection opportunities would have never happened without people like you supporting our work year-after-year.
So the gratitude goes to you, my friends, these are your success stories. You have made an impact!
Whether you have given this year or last gave five years ago, these stories are yours. You have supported the almost 30-year effort to support community well-being, provide wildlife habitats, and protect nature’s health.
Plans for 2021
In the coming months, we will continue our habitat restoration goals to promote biodiversity across our preserves. Our team of dedicated conservation staff and volunteers will maintain miles of trails across more than thirty preserves that support recreation activities like birding, hiking, and hunting.
To provide more areas to support the growing visitor population, we have launched our campaign to purchase 131 acres to create Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs Nature Preserve along Lake Michigan. Additionally, OWLT is pursuing land protection across seven other project sites.
Our hope is that years from now when future generations look back at 2020-2021, they will marvel at how much lasting conservation was able to be accomplished during such a challenging time. To selflessly conserve and steward land, now, for the benefit of future generations will serve as a testament of the indelible spirit of generosity that defines our supporters, like you.
Thank you for being a source of inspiration and hope!