Evers earmarks $2.3 million for purchase of Cedar Gorge Clay Bluff Nature Preserve in Port

ARPA funds will allow Ozaukee Washington Land Trust to buy 132 acres of bluff land

Holding a big check signed by Gov. Tony Evers with a big number on it — $2.3 million payable to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust for the purchase of the Cedar Gorge Clay Bluff Nature Preserve property — were (from left) Ozaukee County Director of Planning and Parks Andrew Struck, Land Trust Executive Director Tom Stolp, State Rep. Deb Andraca and Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole. The group was at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve Thursday, which is just south of the Clay Bluffs property on Port Washington far southeast side. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust on Thursday received $2.3 million from the State of Wisconsin to make the Cedar Gorge Clay Bluff Nature Preserve a reality.

The money, allocated from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, will put the Land Trust’s efforts to raise $5 million to buy the 132-acre property over the top, ensuring the land on Port Washington’s far southeast side is preserved in perpetuity.

The funds were among more than $4.5 million Gov. Tony Evers allocated to five conservation and protection efforts throughout the state.

“This is incredible news,” Land Trust Executive Director Tom Stolp said during a press conference Thursday attended by more than 60 people at the nearby Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve.

He lauded Evers for his “bold leadership” and the hundreds of supporters of the project who have raised money for the purchase and lobbied government leaders to provide funding for the acquisition.

“You made this possible,” he said.

Preston Cole, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, said projects like this provide green spaces that people need and spur tourism while conserving important natural lands.

“This is a big day for the State of Wisconsin, the county, those who live here and those who visit,” Cole said. “I couldn’t be more excited to announce this pivotal acquisition.”

State Rep. Deb Andraca, D-Whitefish Bay, noted the governor gave the project the same amount of money it was supposed to receive from the DNR’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program — an allocation blocked by the state’s Joint Finance Committee after an anonymous legislator objected to it.

“Gov. Evers was willing to do today what the Joint Finance Committee refused to do,” she said. “Twenty years from now, when our children and grandchildren are walking through here, they are not going to care if it was a Republican or a Democrat in charge.”

They will just be grateful the land was  preserved, Andraca said.

Stolp said the Land Trust will purchase the property “as soon as possible,” although no date has been set.

Once the Land Trust acquires the property, it will transfer it to Ozaukee County for use as a park.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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