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The closure of farmers markets around Madison last spring left some Hmong growers at a disadvantage. As farmers markets moved to on-line ordering, growers not proficient in technology or whose primary language isn’t English, were left behind. Groundswell helped by sponsoring an east-side market where Hmong growers sold produce directly to residents of Linden Cohousing and the local neighborhood.

Good news – the market will continue in 2021!

Located in the parking lot of Linden Cohousing on the 2000 block of Winnebago Street, the market is open on Thursdays, from 3:00 – 6:00 pm, May 27, 2021 – September 30, 2021. There is plenty of parking in the back parking lot.

This project came about thanks to a partnership that formed after Groundswell purchased a small farm in Waunakee adjacent to our Westport Prairie preserve. A retiring farmer challenged me to provide long-term security for some of the Hmong market and subsistence growers that had been farming her land for 20 years. Many of you were generous with your support for the farm. In our second year of operation, we are now installing a well that will provide a reliable water source for the growers.

If you have questions about this market or our work to provide equitable access to land, please don’t hesitate to contact Jim Welsh.

Thank you to our 2021 market sponsor TASC!

The Paskas enjoyed their spot on the Wisconsin River for many years.  At the closing, Pat told me that she and Ron always planned a conservation future for the property.  “Shortly after we purchased the property, we were contacted by the DNR and asked if we were willing to sell.  We assured our contact that we would be in touch when that day arrived because we liked the idea of it becoming permanently protected as part of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.  Unfortunately, when the day arrived funds were not available and they were not in a position to accept it as a donation.  Our realtor and friend, John Holbrook, approached Groundswell Conservancy and arranged for us to donate the property, and I understand that it will, at some point, be offered to the State.  A happy ending!” And that in fact is Groundswell’s plan.

The Riverway is one of Wisconsin’s great conservation successes.  It is a private/public partnership that protects the scenery, wildlife, and historical and archeological resources along 92 miles of the river from Prairie du Sac to Wyalusing State Park.  The donation of this land by the Paskas adds another piece to the conservation jigsaw puzzle that is the Riverway.

Even when land is donated we incur transaction costs (title insurance, inspections for potential hazardous wastes, etc). When purchasing land, these costs are often covered by grants. The costs we incurred to accept this donation of land were paid out of our Norm Anderson Conservation Opportunities Fund. This fund was established in 2020 to help us capture conservation opportunities that are outside our budget. The fund is named in honor of Norm Anderson, our first president, who died in 2020. His leadership in the early 1980s provided our new land trust with credibility and opened the doors for success, like this one on the Wisconsin River.

Visit to take action to support the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program! If the Wisconsin governor and the legislature don’t act to renew the program in the next state budget, we’ll lose the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

The Stewardship Program has helped make Wisconsin a leader in protecting a state’s natural resources. For the past 30 years, the Stewardship Program has provided funding to the state DNR, local governments and non-profit conservation partners, such as Groundswell, to preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, to protect water quality and fisheries, and to expand opportunities for outdoor recreation in our parks, wildlife areas and forests. Stewardship is an investment that directly supports Wisconsin’s $12 billion outdoor recreation industry—including a $4 billion hunting and fishing industry—and the state’s $20 billion forestry industry.

Groundswell received the first grant to a non-profit organization for the purchase of conservation easements ever awarded by the Stewardship Program. We received this $1,980 grant in 1993 to help purchase a conservation easement on Token Creek in Dane County. Since that humble beginning, Groundswell has received 65 more Stewardship Program grants, totaling almost $20,000,000. We have used that money to help protect almost 6,000 acres of land and water at great places like Cherokee Marsh, Black Earth Creek, and the Sugar River. See the list below of places we were able to protect with grants from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

Groundswell has matched each $1 provided by the Stewardship Program with an additional $1.30, more than doubling the buying power of the Stewardship Program. This has been thanks to the generosity of landowners as well other sources of conservation funds including the Dane County Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, local foundations, and private contributions.

This wise investment pays off every day for the communities we serve, helping to make sure everyone has parks, trails, and natural areas close to where they live so that everyone has the chance to hike in a natural area, catch a fish, run and play, hunt, and enjoy being outside. It is no surprise that healthy communities have convenient, nearby spaces for recreation and outdoor fun, and the Stewardship Program plays a large role in making that happen.

These are some of the special places protected with grants from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program:

Allen Creek Wetlands State Natural Area

Amey Pond Wildlife Area

Avon Bottoms State Wildlife Area

Black Earth Creek Valley

Blue Mounds Loop Trail

Brooklyn State Wildlife Area

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park

Empire Prairies State Natural Area

Historic Indian Agency House

John Muir County Park

Kingsley Bend, Wisconsin River

Lake Belle View Park

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway

Lower Yahara River

Patrick Marsh Natural Resource Area

Six Mile Creek and Wetlands

Token Creek

Town of Dunn

Upper Sugar River

Waubesa Wetlands State Natural Area

Conservation was your priority on GivingTuesday

More than 60 people (all listed below in alphabetical order) donated $26,123 for local conservation on GivingTuesday. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

A generous, anonymous donor has given $2 for every $1 donated. That means you gave $26,123, the matching donor gave $52,246, for a combined total of $78,369!

Your generosity makes the protection and management of our special places possible – with lasting effect. Together we are creating more places for people to connect with land and passing on our appreciation for the natural world to the next generation.

Our vision is a world filled with green places where communities thrive. We are so grateful you are a part of this vision and are our partner in conservation where you live.

Anonymous (3) Kirsten Koegel and Jim O’Keane
Becky Abel Mary Anne Koos and Will Abberger
Scott and Rebecca Allen Ed Krois
Nicole Anzia and Michael Davies Sheila Leary
Patricia Arndorfer Pat and Phil Leavenworth
Sandy Bennett Herbert Ley
Lois Bergerson Joe Lusson and Aleen Tierney
Jennifer Bevars Saverio and Lori Maglio
Curt Bjurlin and Alexandra Wells Mary Maher and Eileen Maher
Boyden Financial, Inc Kate and Tom McMahan
Carrie Breunig Carson Mettel
Carol Buelow Deb and Al Nemeth
Joe and Kathy Chase Jason Oswald
Gary Coenen Connie and Mark Pelton
Lizzie Condon Joe Rausch
Greg Delwiche Jamie Richardson
Glenda Denniston Harry and Ann Ripp
Ruth and Cal DeWitt Mark and Dana Roffers
John Evenson David Sample
Joanna Fanney and Dale Fanney Gary Schwager
Don Ferber Mary and Jerry Schwoch
Cameron and Kate Field Mark Smith and Dan Rigney
Karen and Andy Grimmer Mary Spike
Susan Gruber William Taylor
Karl Gutknecht and Susan Hunt William Van Haren
Justin Gutoski Jim Welsh
Julie Hayward Carla Wright
Peter and Beth Kaseman-Wold Lynda and Dick Wright
Darcy Kind and Marc Vitale Rich and Andrea Zietko

We are happy to share the news that our on-going partnership with landowners and Dane County resulted today, November 20, 2020, in a new streambank and trail easement on Halfway Prairie Creek on the east side of the Village of Mazomanie.

This ten-acre easement has two purposes: streambank restoration and extension of a popular hike/bike trail. It adjoins the Wolf Run Trail that connects Mazomanie with Wisconsin Heights School.

Mazomanie is located near the bottom of the Black Earth Creek watershed and is especially vulnerable to flooding as our climate and land uses change. The community was very hard hit during the big flood two years ago next month. The easement allows the county to work with the landowner to restore more than 1,000 feet of Halfway Prairie Creek, reconnecting the creek to its floodplain and also improving fish habitat.

The Wolf Run Trail is part of an ambitious trail that will one day connect Madison and Middleton with Sauk City and Reedsburg, passing through Cross Plains, Black Earth, and Mazomanie. This easement is another link in the chain.

Wolf Run Trail volunteer, Jason Sromovsky, shot and produced this wonderful video of the Wolf Run Trail and the Black Earth Creek wetland corridor.

This is the second time that landowner Fred Wolf has protected land for the public good. As Fred put it, “I am just proud to be part of this work.  It is in my family blood to do this.  I saw an 80-year-old couple on the trail, with smiles on their faces. That is why I do this.”

Click here to watch a short video about the first Wolf Run Trail segment.

Mazomanie Village Administrator Peter Huebner described the importance of the easement to the Village. “This easement along Halfway Prairie Creek/Spring Valley Creek would be a great benefit for the Village of Mazomanie. The benefits are twofold: it would increase the creek’s effectiveness of holding back floodwaters, and the resulting trail would add to the enjoyment of those that already use our trails.”

Funding to purchase the easement came from the Dane County Conservation Fund and supporters of Groundswell.

Norm’s wife, Peggy Anderson, and a few people who had worked with Norm during his years of service on the board, shared remembrances with Heidi Habeger of Groundswell.

Heidi Habeger: Where did Norm’s passion for conservation came from?

Peggy Anderson:  Norm spent his childhood in a very industrial part of Indiana.  His aunt and uncle had a cottage next door to the Davidson (Harley Davidson) cottage on Lake Ripley, so every summer his family drove to Wisconsin to visit the relatives.  He loved every moment in Wisconsin.  He told me that the happiest day of the year was driving to Lake Ripley and the saddest day was leaving for Indiana.  The contrast between the terrains was prominent to him even as a very small child.

Heidi Habeger: What inspired Norm to get involved with the establishment of Groundswell?

Peggy Anderson: Norm was a great admirer of Aldo Leopold and purchased land in one of the sand counties where he worked in the woods, trout fished, hunted and just enjoyed the tranquility of the marsh.  His love of our natural resources led him, very naturally, to work on the establishment of what is now Groundswell.

Heidi Habeger: What motivated Norm to make a gift to Groundswell Conservancy in his will?

Peggy Anderson:  Norm frequently spoke of a conversation he had with Gaylord Nelson many years ago.  Gaylord had just returned from a trip to California and he told Norm “I have seen the future and it won’t work”.  We can’t cover the country with concrete, asphalt and cars and expect clean air, water and terrain.  Norm fully realized the value of the fertile ground in Dane County and urgent need to protect as much as possible.  Establishing land trusts is a perfect way to protect resources and preserve open spaces in an ever expanding urbanization.

A Few Words About Norman Anderson, by Bill O’Connor:

Norm Anderson was a champion of the environmental movement before it had a name. Years before the first Earth Day dawned or the 1970s Environmental Decade stirred to life, Norm was writing – and passing – laws that made Wisconsin a model of wise state conservation policy. Studying in UW’S Institute for Environmental Studies, I learned from Professors like Bud Jordahl and Steve Born about the far-reaching Navigable Waters Protection Act (to this day a landmark law critical to the fate of our lakes and streams) and other conservation laws brought to life by Norm in the 1960s. As a legislator Norm was a work horse, not a showboat . . . always on the lookout for new and better ways to preserve the spectacular land and water resources of his adopted home state.

When Mayor Joe Sensenbrenner empaneled a Blue-Ribbon Committee in 1983 to look for a way to “Save Eagle Heights” woods, it was natural for him to ask Norm to serve as chair. He brought deep experience and assured leadership to the task, recognizing immediately how a “land trust” could complement the work of public agencies to protect critical lands. I worked closely with Norm and the committee as a young lawyer whose main credential was familiarity with land trusts and what they could do. That committee chartered the Dane County Natural Heritage Foundation and Saved the Woods, too! For the fledgling non-profit’s first 5 years, Norm ably chaired the Foundation’s Board.

About the time Norm stepped down from the Foundation’s leadership, he asked me to join his law firm. We worked together on conservation and other matters until he retired some 30 years later. For me, Norm was a wise, devoted mentor and friend. As a private lawyer, he was a model of positive civic engagement. As a Groundswell founder, he set the bar high for integrity and practical conservation results. We are lucky to be able to carry on Norm Anderson’s legacy.

Bill Lunney, former board president of Groundswell and served on the board with Norm:

Norm Anderson’s leadership as the Dane County Natural Heritage Foundation’s first President was critical to the early success of the organization (now Groundswell Conservancy). His status as Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, and a long time local environmental leader provided instant credibility to our fledgling organization and opened the doors for success.

As the Foundation’s first President, he guided us with a steady hand through the  many early challenges and helped establish the framework for our enduring success. Of note, he was one of the  recipients of the Foundation’s first Stewardship Awards, joining leaders like Owen Gromme, and Walter Frautschi.

The application period has ended. We are no longer accepting new applications for this position.

Development and Outreach Coordinator

Groundswell Conservancy is a nonprofit land-protection organization based in Madison, WI. Our mission is to protect special places, forever, in the Dane County, Wisconsin region. We are a results-oriented organization. Since our inception in 1983, we have permanently protected more than 12,000 acres of important land and water. We accomplish our work by:

Position Summary:
The Development and Outreach Coordinator works as a team member under the guidance of the Director of Major and Planned Gifts to create, renew, and strengthen relationships with financial supporters of Groundswell Conservancy. Community support is critical in making conservation possible. This position plays a crucial role in effective stewardship of our supporters and is a rewarding part of our work.

Primary Responsibilities:

Annual Giving (70%)

Communications (25%)

Office Management (5%)

Minimum Qualifications:

Salary and Benefits:
This is a full-time (40 hours/week) position in our office at 303 S. Paterson Street, Madison, WI 53703. The salary range is $40,000 to $43,000 annually depending upon qualifications. Paid benefits include health and dental insurance, annual and sick leave, and retirement. Groundswell is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

This position requires occasional weekend and evening work.

To Apply:
Please email resume and cover letter to Heidi Habeger, Director of Major and Planned Gifts, Groundswell Conservancy, The application deadline is Friday, June 5, 2020.

January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2024
Approved by Board of Directors November 20, 2019

Our Purpose and Vision

We protect special places forever. We want everyone to live in a world filled with green places where communities thrive. We believe that land is essential for people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. If we don’t protect undeveloped land now, it may be lost forever.

Our Strengths

Since Groundswell’s founding in 1983, we have permanently protected more than 12,000 acres of important land and water that provide for a high quality of life in southern Wisconsin. Our record of success includes protecting cherished landscapes like Cherokee Marsh and the Black Earth Creek valley, valuable agricultural areas like the Town of Dunn, vital wetlands that help maintain water quality in the Yahara Chain of Lakes, and nearby places where kids can fall in love with nature and where food is grown for local markets.

Our nature preserves are community centers with vibrant outdoor volunteering programs and exciting community engagement initiatives like the bird-inspired wildlife overlook at Patrick Marsh and our partnership with Waunakee High School students at Westport Prairie. Our robust conservation easement program helps many landowners and communities provide public benefits from private lands. We are a valued partner of the DNR, Dane County, local governments, and conservation-minded landowners. Our staff, board, and supporters have built strong relationships with partners and communities, and we are a trusted conservation resource for many.

Every year more people contribute more time and money to our cause and more people have included us in their estate plans. Landowners and supporters tell wonderful stories about our work, and our events and field trips are popular ways to build community.

Our Plans

Over the next five years, we will provide lasting and significant benefits to our communities and to the environment. We aspire to achieve the promise of permanence in our work. We will continue to innovate because we work in a rapidly growing region where people are spending less time outside and forging fewer connections to nature, and because land is in high demand and not accessible to many people in the communities Groundswell serves. Further, in our increasingly diverse communities people have new and different needs for land and nature.

Community Benefits

Protecting Land
We will permanently protect at least 3,000 acres of land in Dane County and the surrounding areas with an equitable approach to saving open spaces for nature and public enjoyment, meeting the diverse needs of all of our communities, and protecting high-quality farmland from development.

Community Preserves
We will make our preserves more welcoming to all people (and make more people aware of our properties) so that they will be more valued by all of our communities thanks to the recreation, conservation, mental, physical, and emotional health benefits they provide. Groundswell will provide more opportunities for young people to engage, learn, explore, and have fun in nature.

Equitable Access to Land and Nature
We will provide more places for people to grow food for local consumption, including by people who may benefit from the therapeutic value of growing food. We will improve land tenure and success for the immigrant and minority farmers at our Westport and Pasley’s Swan Creek Farms. Working with teams of parents and teachers, we will create more “green school yards” at community schools in Madison where all children can explore and have fun in nature right at their own schools. We will improve access at our nature preserves for people of different abilities.

Environmental Benefits

Climate Crisis
We will create community resiliency against flooding by protecting and managing wetlands around the Yahara chain of lakes and other important watersheds. We will explore reducing our carbon footprint by installing solar panels on our buildings at Westport Prairie. We will consider other climate crisis mitigation strategies as appropriate.

We will manage our preserves to improve wildlife habitat, reduce soil erosion, and improve soil health. Groundswell will plant an additional 25 acres of native prairie habitat at Patrick Marsh and 20 acres at Westport Prairie. We will reduce the amount of herbicide we use to restore and manage our prairies and savannas.

Water Quality

We will permanently protect and manage land to improve water quality in lakes and streams, focusing on wetland protection to reduce flooding and create clean water.


Funding for Perpetuity
Our Easement Enforcement Endowment will increase to cover 100% of the stewardship and defense needs of our conservation easements (from the current level of ~90%).

We will have a seamless transition to a new executive director in 2022. We will renew our accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance in 2020 and we will be well-prepared to apply for renewal in 2024.

Broad Base of Support
Our board, staff, volunteers, and event participants will be more representative of the communities we serve. More people will join us to protect special places forever.

Thanks to the conservation goals of Oscar and Norma Bjugstad, on March 27, 2020, we were able to place a conservation easement on 106 acres of high-quality farmland on the southeast side of Evansville Wildlife Area in Rock County. The easement permanently prevents development of the property, keeping it available for farming and open to the public for hunting at the adjacent wildlife area.

As Oscar and Norma put it, “We believe in preserving the farmland for future generations!” That sentiment runs in the family. Their son Brian already protected his adjacent farm with a permanent conservation easement.

A major funder of the conservation easement is the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Land Easement program.  According to Kristin Westad, NRCS Easement Biologist, “The purpose of the ALE program is to help effective organizations like Groundswell Conservancy protect even more land. Groundswell brought USDA funds together with other contributions to protect soil, water and wildlife habitat. Meeting farm families like the Bjugstads is the highlight of my job.”

Other funding to purchase the easement came from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the Rock River Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever, and supporters of Groundswell including the estate of Marie Fraser.

As the times and protocols call for, we purchased the easement by escrow, meaning that the Bjugstads and Jim Welsh were not physically in the room when the transaction occurred.

Jim’s message to the Groundswell community at the time was, “This is the last closing we expect to have for a few months, but that doesn’t mean our land protection efforts will stop. Staff will continue to lay the foundation for future conservation easements and acquisitions.  In the meantime, I hope you can find your own good news by getting outside and enjoying the spring. The pasque flowers should be in bloom on the prairies shortly.  I hope you stay well.”

Groundswell’s highest priority is the health and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and community during the rapidly evolving health concern of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

We are monitoring the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and using information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and Safer-At-Home order issued by Governor Evers to inform and develop policies to protect our community and help prevent the spread of the virus.

Staff Schedules and Availability to the Public

Our office in Madison is closed, as Groundswell staff is working from home. During this time we remain committed to our mission, to protect special places forever. We are still available to you via email, phone, zoom conferencing, and social media (FacebookInstagram). Any message left on the office phone (608-258-9797) will be forwarded to staff at home automatically. They will return your call. View a staff list here.

Please visit our events calendar for information on rescheduled and adapted monthly field trips..

Outdoor volunteering is cancelled for the month of March and April. Please check our Outdoor Volunteering page for future updates or to be added to that email list.

We thank you for your trust, understanding and patience. In the meantime, we are as passionate as ever about what we can accomplish together.

Do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

Additional Resources

Safer-At-Home order issued by Governor Evers

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources statement regarding the status of state parks.