What We Do

Conservancy Issues:

Conservation Developments

Shaping, not stopping, growth in Walworth County is the challenge that faces all who highly value this area’s unique character and quality of life. The Conservancy’s role is to assure responsible development that will preserve and protect significant amounts of land and safeguard the historical and cultural heritage of the region as well. In addition to its land conservation work with private property owners, the Conservancy supports the County’s adoption and implementation of a conservation subdivision ordinance that incentivizes residential developers, particularly in urban fringe and rural areas, to adopt designs and site plans that maximize protection of open space and natural areas. Conservation subdivisions also employ techniques, materials and native plantings that reduce stormwater runoff, even after construction is completed, protecting surface water quality and controlling erosion.

Native Shoreline Vegetation

Wisconsin’s lakes are among its foremost attractions, providing millions of
recreation days annually to tourists and residential meccas to those fortunate
enough to own a piece of lakefront property. Unfortunately, with the residential
development all too frequently comes massive alteration of the shoreline
landscape — piers and boat slips, clearing of vegetation and cultivation of
showy acres of green grass, and installation of terraces, riprap and other
devices to provide a degree of wave protection to the now-denuded shoreline. In
even moderately sloped areas, unfortunately, what gets applied to the land to
sustain this newly-created landscape (pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides)
gets easily washed into the lake with each storm event, creating water quality
and habitat problems. The Conservancy would like to reverse this trend, working
with willing lakeshore property owners throughout Walworth County, to
reintroduce native species plantings, providing shoreland protection and
stabilization, improving water quality and even discouraging rapidly expanding
goose populations.

Planning and Zoning

Safeguarding the land and historical legacy involves more than working with
landowners and addressing big picture development and land conservation issues.
It also means dealing with the nuts and bolts planning and zoning issues that
confront town, village, city and county officials regularly. The Conservancy
plays a watchdog role, monitoring requests for rezoning, variances or
conditional uses that signal changing land uses and the prospect of development
that is counter to adopted plans and policies. Close attention is also given to
land use and park and open space planning activities, where service on advisory
boards and opportunity for public participation can help shape overall
preservation and development policies. Please see the Conservancy’s Policy Paper
on Development for more information.

Farmland Preservation

Walworth County is known for its prime agricultural lands. They not only
support significant crop production and dairy operations, they add demonstrably
to the scenic and open space values of the county. In a 1999 survey of county
residents, 90% agreed that farmland preservation is important, and 80% agreed
that County government should establish it as priority goal and implement
policies to achieve it. The Conservancy is committed to farmland preservation as
well, and recently recommended as part of the County land use plan 2020 update
the initiation of a dialogue among farmers, County officials and land
conservation interests to examine the viability of a purchase of development
rights (PDR) program that would identify and compensate owners of prime
agricultural lands for keeping their land in farm production.