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Many of you may remember the excitement and sense of accomplishment when a group of people came together in the early 1980s to protect a few acres of woodland on Lake Mendota. The creation of Wally Bauman Woods started a conservation movement that has saved many wonderful local landscapes of farmland, wetlands, woods and prairies, and has provided public places to hike, hunt, fish, and play in and around Dane County.

Our movement is now 34 years old, and our accomplishments have really added up. Since we got started as Dane County Natural Heritage Foundation and later became Natural Heritage Land Trust, we have permanently protected more than 11,000 acres of our beautiful landscape.

Protecting more land and serving more people is more important than ever. As our community grows and becomes more diverse, we continue to need land for good health and vibrant communities. But the competition for land gets stiffer every year. So what do we do?

Our core purpose is unwavering—to protect special places forever—but we are re-dedicating our work to the broader community so that we can protect even more places that are important in all our lives.

Our new name—Groundswell Conservancy—represents everything Natural Heritage Land Trust is and does. The name creates a powerful identity that will help us enlarge our wonderful base of friends, supporters, and partners. With it, we can connect with young families, college students, urban youth, and environmentally conscious consumers with limited outdoor recreation experience—the conservation heroes that we will surely need tomorrow and in the years to come.

We may have a new name, but we have the same purpose as when we started in the 1980’s – to protect special places, forever.

Groundswell Conservancy also helps tell how your impact goes beyond “acres saved” to “lives changed.” We are using our own experience in land protection to give disconnected youth important work experience on our preserves, helping students at Lake View Elementary School learn outside in an enlarged outdoor classroom, and securing land for local food production by immigrant farmers.

Conservation of cherished places—Cherokee Marsh, Black Earth Creek, Westport Drumlin, Patrick Marsh, Town of Dunn farmland— doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because our community comes together to make it happen. We look forward to all we will accomplish together in the coming years.

Video Credits: Videography and music by Michael Bryant; photography by Mario Quintana, Angie Banks and Roberta Herschleb; Patrick Marsh drone video by Jason Sromosvsky.