Thanks to the late Bessie McGwin Eggleston and her niece and nephews and the dedication and vision of many conservation partners, on September 5, 2014, Groundswell purchased part of the original John Muir family farm in Marquette County between Montello and Portage. John Muir was a founder of the Sierra Club and is widely regarded as the father of our National Park System, which is turning 100 years old in 2016.
This 198-acre acquisition (map) includes 38 acres of the original 320-acre farm settled by Daniel Muir in 1849. About 60 acres of the Muir farm is already permanently protected at the adjacent John Muir Memorial Park/Muir Park State Natural Area surrounding Ennis Lake (called Fountain Lake by the Muirs).
The property we acquired will become part of a 1,400-acre protected landscape, which includes the John Muir Memorial Park/Muir Park State Natural Area and the Fox River National Wildlife Refuge. The property will be open to the public for hiking, hunting, cross-country skiing, fishing, trapping, and bird-watching. In the next few years, we will donate the 120 acres west of County Highway F to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as an addition to the Fox River National Wildlife Refuge. And we will donate the eastern 78 acres to the Ice Age Trail Alliance. A segment of the Ice Age Trail circles Ennis Lake and may continue north across the property we acquired today.
Funding to complete this acquisition was provided by the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, USFWS Fox River/Green Bay Natural Resource Trustee Council, The Conservation Fund, Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust, Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, and many generous members of Groundswell, Wisconsin Friends of John Muir, and John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Our thanks go to the McGwin family for their commitment to conservation, and to the partners made this important acquisition possible: Wisconsin Friends of John Muir, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Wisconsin DNR, and the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club.
There was a dedication event at the property on Saturday, June 13, 2015.