Posted January 2023
Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) is committed to preserving and restoring natural areas within Lake Michigan, Milwaukee River, and Menomonee River watersheds. But these natural resources are facing unprecedented challenges with changes to our regional environment and climate. These alterations are leading to an increased frequency of heavy rain events resulting in flooding throughout the region. Additionally, they are predicted to disrupt wildlife migration patterns and food sources.
OWLT will use the preserves as focal points to identify restoration, management, and new land protection opportunities with the potential to build the capacity of natural infrastructure to respond to these challenges. These opportunities include:
Improving soil health to capture and store carbon, promote infiltration, and reduce runoff.
Restoring wetlands and floodplains to promote retention of water and sediment.
Managing stormwater runoff, improving water quality, and moderating stream flows.
Protecting critical groundwater recharge areas.
Therefore, OWLT has performed a Climate Resiliency Evaluation covering areas across the OWLT preserves. The tasks within this evaluation included:
Comprehensive Review of OWLT’s Preserves. This review considered a variety of natural and cultural features specific to each preserve, within a local and larger watershed context, to reveal opportunities for enhancing resiliency on each of our protected holdings.
Set Priorities Among OWLT Preserves. The outcome of the above analysis allowed OWLT to prioritize the preserves that offer the greatest opportunities for addressing climate resiliency needs.
Develop Restoration Plans to Build Resiliency OWLT is working with consultant(s) to develop four (4) climate resiliency-informed restoration plans for its preserves within the watersheds. These restoration plans will better leverage future funding opportunities by allowing OWLT to respond quickly to opportunities that require substantially designed or “shovel-ready” restoration projects.
OWLT is utilizing the Climate Resiliency Evaluation to implement the Climate Resiliency Project. This ongoing project incorporates multiple focused conservation efforts on several of the OWLT preserves.
Throughout the 2023 year, we will be reporting the status of the project to our partners, funding sources, and the OWLT community. Please stay tuned via OWLT communications on the progress of our efforts and to learn how you can help support this project by volunteering, engaging, and donating.
OWLT is pleased to have worked with key consultants and funding sources to work on this project. This includes Conservation Strategies Group and Habitat Restoration Partners. This article is funded in part by Land Trust Alliance, Fund for Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin Department of Administration, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the terms and conditions of this Agreement.