2022 Annual Report - WI Land+Water

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Message from the Director

It has been said that the only constant is change, and 2022—like the years that immediately preceded it—proved that axiom true.

While the literal landscape in which we live is experiencing great change due to shifting land use patterns and climate change, the landscape of Wisconsin’s county conservation community itself is experiencing changes. On the land conservation committee (LCC) side of the coin, the two-year election cycle is an expected and regular time of transition, though by most accounts 2022 saw more new incoming faces than is typical. On the land and water conservation department (LWCD) side of the coin, 2022 kept with a recent trend of continued staffing turnover, with more and more newer conservationists coming into the fold to replace longer-tenured conservationists who have moved on.

Amid such shifts, our collective challenge—and the challenge of WI Land+Water, for sure—is to harness and translate the wisdom and experience of those who have dutifully served to a new generation, all the while providing newcomers an invitation and a roadmap to build their own conservation expertise. But there is great opportunity here, as well, to integrate new perspectives, experiences, and expertise into our community, which will only enrich and strengthen us.

To rise to these challenges and seize these opportunities, WI Land+Water bolstered our internal “conservation training infrastructure” in 2022, adding new staff, capacity, and skill sets. Combined with our existing staff capacity to provide leadership to our members on issues related to conservation standards development, youth education, advocacy, and climate resilience. Our goal is to support our members in meeting and rising above the ever-growing list of challenges we face in the conservation landscape, while thriving in their role as conservationists.

Thriving in the field of conservation has always entailed opportunistically matching in-field resource assessments with conservation programs and funding sources, and those, too, are changing. 2022 saw the federal government implement new conservation opportunities via the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Program. Combined, these efforts make up a once-in-a-generation moment for conservation funding, which presents new and exciting opportunities for our county conservation community. We look forward to continuing to partner with our members to ensure we translate these programs to conservation successes at the local level.


Lands, Waters, and People

WI Land+Water is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) that uniquely serves Wisconsin—its lands, waters, and people—through our membership, public programs, leadership, and resources. We work at the center of Wisconsin’s conservation network, supporting the land and water conservation departments and committees in advancing our mission and vision for all communities.

Our Mission

We work to protect, conserve, and enhance Wisconsin’s natural resources by advocating for and supporting county conservation efforts for current and future generations.

Our Vision

We envision a future where our natural resources are valued and protected by informed, empowered communities advancing conservation at the local level.

About Us

We have eight staff members and one intern in our Madison office, but the entire organization includes the Board of Directors, eight committees, and eight area associations, as well as the broader network of public, private, non-profit partners, and volunteers across Wisconsin.

Our membership is comprised of all 370 county staff members of the land and water conservation departments (LWCD) and all 470 members serving on the county land conservation committees (LCC) in Wisconsin.

Contents 4 Advocacy & Legislation 5 Communications 6 Climate Resilience 8 Conservation Training 11 Standards Development 12 Youth Education 14 Committee Highlights 15 Budget Summary

Advocacy & Legislation

We advocate for locally led conservation and champion policies that promote county-based conservation work in Wisconsin.

We advocated for the passage of Wisconsin Act 223 (Assembly Bill 727), which provides more tools for county LWCD staff to improve water quality, promote soil health, and protect drinking water. The act achieved a longstanding policy priority of ours in creating a new hydrogeologist position at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey which will work with counties to provide important groundwater data. The

act also created the Nitrogen Optimization Pilot Program and Cover Crop Insurance Premium Rebate Program, both housed at the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. (DATCP).

We also welcomed new land conservation committee (LCC) members across the state into our membership, who we supported with LCC- specific resources and training through our website’s Members Hub.

An excellent turnout of county conservation staff was present to celebrate the signing of ACT 223.

Pictured from left: Matt Krueger (WI Land+Water), Shane Wucherpfennig (Wood Co), Steve Bradley (Portage Co.), Dustin Ladd (Juneau Co.), Pat Kilbey (Marquette Co), Jen McNelly (Portage Co.), Kirstie Heidenreich (Marathon Co.), Kirk Langfoss (Marathon Co.), Dustin McHenry (Marathon Co.)



We share conservation successes, innovative solutions, and the hard work of local leaders to underscore the impact of locally led conservation across Wisconsin.

In 2022, we were committed to strengthening our relationships with key partners and finding new and creative ways to communicate and engage with our audiences. Whether it was through our participation in important initiatives, expanding our online presence, or developing new communications materials, our goal was to provide value and support to those we serve. Below are highlights of the key achievements that have allowed us to further our mission and better meet the needs of our members.

Participation in the Clean Economy Coalition of Wisconsin: Our team served on the Communications Steering Committee for the Clean Economy Coalition of Wisconsin, which is a collaborative partnership of organizations working towards a clean economy in our state.

Expansion of digital publications: We continued to expand our online presence by leveraging Issuu and

our website to publish newsletters and resources, including an interactive conference program after the pivot to a virtual annual conference.

Working with Climate Resilience Program: We worked closely with our Climate Resilience Program to develop multiple communications pieces, including the County Roadmap explainer handout for carbon sequestration practices.

Expanding communications partnerships: Our team continued to expand our partnerships through our participation in the StateFederal Climate Initiative, promotion of agroforestry practices in Monroe County with the Savanna Institute, and collaboration with DATCP to publish three county success stories in the Wisconsin Report On Soil and Water Conservation. We also worked to increase our earned media through the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk.

Learn how we partnered on agroforestry efforts by visiting savannainstitue.org/partnering Three issues of The Note were viewed
1,358 times with an average read time of 10 minutes. We added 217 new subscribers.
We interviewed five farmers in key legislative districts to create a StoryMap for the 2023-2025 Budget cycle.

Climate Resilience Program

We support counties implementing local climate action.

Through our Climate Resilience Program, we are working with our members leading on climate programming, landowners implementing climate-smart practices, and partners in Wisconsin and across the country guiding us. We received support from five funders that believe in the importance Wisconsin counties play in supporting communities prepare for climate change. In 2022, our program enhanced county capacity through training and webinars coordinated with partners to develop resources, worked with partners and members to identify federal climate funding opportunities, and implemented carbon-smart practices on the landscape. We also worked to develop new, publications featured below:

A County Guide: Monroe County Reducing Emissions through Conservation

» We developed this publication to showcase Monroe County’s effort to mitigate climate impacts through conservation practices and explain their impact on the landscape.

The Value of Actively Managing Your Corn & Soy Farm’s Climate Footprint

» We partnered with TNC, American Farmland Trust, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture to produce this resource to better understand emission management opportunities.

2021 Assessment Report: Wisconsin’s Changing Climate

» Our members contributed to this report, which highlights the impacts of our warming climate on Wisconsin residents and provides solutions for resiliency.


1,100 trees were planted on All Seasons Farm in Monroe County. The trees not only help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon, but also help the Gretebecks adapt their land and cattle to better withstand extreme weather.

45 people joined our 3-week online Carbon Farm Planning Workshop, hosted with our partners from Carbon Cycle Institute, which introduced members to planning conservation through a carbon lens and utilizing emission tracking tools.

We joined the Clean Economy Coalition of Wisconsin because we understand that a clean economy relies on thriving landscapes that support productive agriculture, resilient cities, and valued natural areas. The coalition advocates for natural climate solutions that protect land and water while providing economic growth to both rural and urban communities.

We launched the County Climate Hub to help counties easily access reports and resources to help understand, plan, and implement climate action at the local level: wisconsinlandwater.org/ members-hub/conservationresources/climate-resilience/ climate-hub conservationresources/climate-resilience/ climate-hub

We launched the County Climate Hub, a multi-page website to help counties easily

We partnered with Monroe County, Savanna Institute, and Organic Valley to implement a silvopasture plan on the Gretebeck’s All Seasons Farm in Monroe County.


Conservation Training

We build teams of well-trained conservation professionals that teach cutting edge best management practices.

In 2022, Isabelle Paulsen transitioned from our Communications Intern into the position of Conservation Training and Membership Services Manager.

Our online trainings were recorded and later posted on the our website, making them accessible for everyone to use. All of our trainings are a collaborative effort with various statewide partners. When trainings meet

43 people attended Basics of Ag training, developed for new conservation staff working with landowners.

certain specifications, we are able to offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and Professional Development Hours (PDHs).

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection provides funding to WI Land+Water for trainings and SITCOM. We continue to offer a robust training program as shown in the following deliverables:

3,441 people attended our trainings.

3,016 attended live webinars.

325 attended 17 in-person trainings and field days.

343 people attended the NR151 Series, which consisted of 4 webinars led by LWCD, DATCP, and DNR staff.

87 people attended the County Conserservation Meeting in July.



2022 was a year of change and finding direction for the State Interagency Training Committee (SITCOM). With the support of NRCS, we hired Michael Hook as the Statewide Training Coordinator to lead SITCOM in its efforts to enhance the delivery of conservation training across the state. Michael joined the team after a decade in public education, and his background in teaching and learning added another perspective to SITCOM’s team, which already consisted of an overwhelming amount of conservation experience, expertise, knowledge, and skill with members from all across the state, representing our agency partners.

SITCOM met four times over the course of 2022, and accomplished a number of key objectives:

Completed both an informal observation and formal research study of the statewide training landscape, consisting of more than 20 in-person interviews with county and partner employees, seven formal training observations, and survey feedback from 85 training course attendees. SITCOM plans to use the findings from these studies as part of 2023 goal-setting and upcoming task force efforts.

1 2 3 4

Developed and updated the 2022 SITCOM Operational Guidance to include a number of key changes that allow for a more formalized approach to how the team identifies a training landscape gap, organizes a task force of individuals both in and outside of SITCOM, and creates and carries out an action plan to make real change.

Established a training landscape gaps and priorities list, which was broken down into 4 major categories: pertinent training topics, instructor support, professional development opportunities, and interagency coordination. SITCOM identified needs such as exploring a mentorship program to support new hires, identifying interagency curriculum development opportunities, and enhancing ways to address priority training topics.

Created a Needs Assessment Task Force to redesign, develop, and deliver the 2023 Professional Conservation Training Needs Assessment to help partner agencies and training programs identify statewide and area priority training needs.

If you have ideas for new training programs, coordination opportunities, or you’re interested in participating in a potential mentorship program, please reach out to a SITCOM member:

» Stacy Dehne, DATCP Ag Engineer, North AITCOM Leader

» Pete Wurzer, DATCP Environmental Specialist, Northwest AITCOM Leader

» Drew Zelle, DATCP Environmental Specialist, Northeast AITCOM Leader

» Kelli Neitzel, DATCP Environmental Specialist, Southwest AITCOM Leader

» Ryan Glassmaker, DATCP Environmental Specialist, Southeast AITCOM Leader

» Matt Woodrow and Coreen Fallat, DATCP

» Karl Gesch and Nate Walker, WDNR

» Steve Becker, Mike Stanek, and Pam Fiorito, NRCS

» Tony Reali, Calumet County Conservationist, Professional Improvement Committee

» Dan O’Connell, Portage County Senior Cons. Tech., Technical Committee

» Mimi Broeske and Jamie Patton, UW-College of Ag. and Life Sciences

» Kevin Erb and Jenna Mertz, UW-Extension

» Emily Micolichek, Miller Engineers & Scientists, Member-at-Large

» Isabelle Paulsen, Chris Schlutt, and Michael Hook, Wisconsin Land+Water


69th Annual Conference & Conservation Awards

In 2022, we made the decision to once again pivot to a virtual conference. Our Professional Improvement Committee (PIC) provided leadership in developing the conference agenda with support from the Technical Committee and SITCOM. We hosted the conference via Zoom and used our website to create a virtual Conference Hub, which allowed us to provide timely updates and easy access to our members before and during the conference. We recorded nearly all of our conference sessions and many can be found on at youtube.com/@WILandWater.

During the conference, we recognized those in our conservation community who were nominated by their peers and selected by the PIC to receive a conservation award. The 2023 Winners are:

• Anne Bartels, Marinette County, Brad Matson Youth Education Award

• Becky Arneson,Trempealeau County, Outstanding

308 people attended the virtual Annual Conference.

In even numbered years, WI Land+Water elects three of our members to serve on the state Land and Water Conservation Board.

The delegates are:

» Rebecca Clarke, Sheboygan County, Lake Michigan Area

» Monte Osterman, Racine County, Southeastern Area

» Bob Thome, Jr., Oneida County, North Central Area

Conservation Employee, Administrative/Clerical

• Travis Tulowitzky, Bayfield County, Outstanding Conservation Employee, Technician/Agronomist/ Planner (pictured above)

• Larry Sommer, Forest County, Outstanding Supervisor.

• Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance, Special Recognition/Friend of Conservation

30 sessions offered CEUs from both the Annual Conference and other training sessions.

14 sessions offered PDHs from both the Annual Conference and other training sessions.


Standards Development

The Standards Oversight Council (SOC) assists partner agencies in the development of uniform technical standards that protect Wisconsin’s natural resources.

SOC’s unique inter-agency collaboration ensures uniform, science-based technical standards to support a wide variety of federal, state and local conservation programs. The SOC process uses teams of local, state and federal agency researchers, and private sector experts to reach consensus among different interests. Bringing agencies and technical experts together early in the process, and then soliciting input to the drafts by additional practitioners, ensures that the final standards will not only meet the conservation goals, but can be also be readily implemented.

8 revised technical standards published via the Full or Modified Process.

SOC supported its partner custodian agencies—DATCP, WDNR, and NRCS—in publishing 8 technical standards in 2022.

Specific 2022 accomplishments based on work through a SOC modified or full process are featured below.

Custodian agencies published the following technical standards based on work through SOC work teams: NRCS conservation practice standard (CPS) 561 Heavy Use Protection, CPS 627 Wastewater Treatment, Milk House, CPS 632 Waste Separation Facility, CPS 634 Waste Transfer, WDNR

Public reviews yielded

681 comments from 89 reviewers.

150+ attendees at SOC introductory presentations.

1002 Site Evaluation for Storm Water Infiltration, WDNR 1056 Perimeter Sediment Control and Slope Interruption, WDNR 1060 Storm Drain Inlet Protection, and WDNR 1072 Horizontal Directional Drilling. Prior to publication of these standards, the SOC process included a public review and consideration of stakeholder input. Ongoing work continues into 2023 on CPS 328 Conservation Crop Rotation, CPS 380 Windbreak/ Shelterbelt Establishment and Renovation, WDNR 1011/1012 Dry Storm Water Basins/Enhanced Dry Treatment System, and WDNR 1013 Enhanced Phosphorus Removal.

If you’d like to stay informed about SOC:

» New work teams

» Public comment periods

» New standard publication

» SOC news

Visit our new website and sign up for SOC emails at socwisconsin.org.

800+ participants in standard-related trainings supported by SOC.

52 SOC work team members from

29 different employers


Youth Education

We teach and inspire Wisconsin’s youth to be the next generation of environmental stewards through engaging education programs.

Still affected by the impacts of COVID in 2022, our Youth Education Committee worked hard to restructure our programs to provide opportunities, so students could participate in all of our core youth conservation programs.

Our Youth Education Committee organized a virtual Poster and Speaking Conservation Awareness contest for a second year in a row due to our annual conference being held virtually.

As the year progressed, our committee thought a hybrid structure made the most sense for the WI Envirothon. We held the Current Issue Team presentation virtually where students presented from school by Zoom, while the hands-on station exams were held outside in person. After two years of a remote Envirothon it was great

to welcome advisors, students and volunteers back for a hybrid event. The winning high school team was able to participate in person at the NCF-Envirothon competition in Ohio.

By summer, we were excited to welcome high school students back to our Conservation Camp in Manitowish Waters at the North Lakeland Discovery Center after two years of cancellations. And with the end of the middle school camp held at Sand Lake, our committee worked to successfully organize a new middle school conservation camp held at Upham Woods in WI Dells in June.

We would like to thank all our volunteers and supporters for supporting all of our Youth Education programs over these past few challenging years.

The 2022 Envirothon was made possible by the generous support from our sponsors:

» The Robert W. and Susan T. Brown Family Foundation

» Smithfield Foods, Inc.

» Wisconsin County Forests Association, Inc.

» Cellcom

» Express Recycling Solutions, Inc.

» Recycling Connections

» Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association

» Lake Winnebago Land+Water Area Association

» North Central Land+Water Area Association

» Southeastern Land+Water Area Association

» Generous support from our County LWCDs across the state


11teams participated in the hybrid WI Envirothon—the state’s ultimate hands-on environmental science challenge.

1,025 posters were submitted to the virtual Conservation Awareness Poster Contest.

44 students sent videos of their conservation topic to be judged at the virtual Conservation Awareness Speaking Contest.

65 middle school students attended our new youth conservation camp held at Upham Woods in the WI Dells.


Committee Highlights

We have multiple committees—comprised of LCC and LWCD members, WI Land+Water staff, and agency partners—that help oversee our programs.

Great Lakes Committee

The Great Lakes Committee (GLC) works to support, promote, and develop county land and water programming to protect, conserve, and enhance natural resources in the Great Lakes basin

» Sponsored a webinar on Microplastic Debris Pollution.

» Met twice in 2022 with the Annual Tour being Postponed due to Covid concerns.

» 2023 Annual Meeting and Tour is tentatively scheduled to be in Ashland County.

» Committee elections results: Chair - Greg Coulthurst; Vice Chair - Ashley Vande Voort; Secretary - Scott Frank; Treasurer - Isabelle Paulsen.

» Approved a mini grant to Douglas County for a Stop Spiny Waterflea Prevention Campaign.

» MaryJo Gingras is now leading a separate Statewide Workgroup on Recycling Plastics.

» The Great Lakes Committee is also known as the “Coolest” Committee within WI Land+Water... (It’s always cooler by the Lake(s)).

Legislative/Administrative Committee

The Legislative/Administrative Committee reviews and takes action deemed necessary on proposed legislation, policies, or procedures that may impact our conservation programs.

» Engaged on legislative and policy topics related to: wildlife damage abatement programs, improving nonpoint source management, expanding county capacity to implement land and water resource management plans, and clarifying the statutorily defined makeup of LCCs.

» Solicited statewide input to help develop 2023-25 State Biennial Budget Priorities.

Professional Improvement Committee

The Professional Improvement Committee (PIC) coordinates the annual conference, which provides high quality training and educational sessions for our members, agency partners, and the public.

» Helped develop and organize breakout sessions and provided support for sessions at the annual conference.

» Managed the member training scholarship program.

» Promoted and judged conservation awards.

Public Outreach Committee

The Public Outreach Committee assists counties with increasing public awareness and support for locally-led land and water conservation efforts.

» Held five virtual meetings and increased total committee membership to 15 people.

» Completed the Outreach and Communications Survey for Counties and assessed current outreach efforts.

» Committee elections results: Chair - Katie Abbott; Vice Chair - Dani Santry; Secretary - Paul Backhaus.

» Met in-person for an all day workplan development session in Stevens Point.


Technical Committee

The Technical Committee manages technical issues and provides guidance for technical projects across Wisconsin.

» Welcomed Zach Mohr (Eau Claire Co.), Ketty Clow (Chippewa Co.), Jonathon Lisowe (Calumet Co.), and Chad Trudell (Oconto Co.).

» Established a subcommittee to create a companion document to WDNR’s Direct Runoff from Feedlots Guidance.

» Created a conservation practice no-rise checklist for floodplain Zone A.

» Surveyed counties to establish a baseline and methodology for standardizing navigability determinations.

» Established a process for assisting counties with hydrologic and hydraulic studies in floodplain Zone AE.

» Reviewed Chapter 30 permitting status.

» Provided input and representation on the Wetland Rapid Assessment Methodology.

» Coordinated technical sessions for the 2023 WI Land+Water Conference.

» Provided NRCS State Technical Subcommittee updates.

» Provided quarterly SOC updates and followed progress related to technical standards being created or updated.

» Promoted the WI Land+Water Technical Photo Gallery.

» Held the Fall Technical Tour (pictured left).

Youth Education Committee

The Youth Education Committee coordinates all the youth programs—Poster & Speaking Contest, Conservation Camps, and Envirothon.

» Awarded the third Brad Matson Youth Education Award to Anne Bartels, Marinette County.

» Organized a second year of virtual Conservation Poster and Speaking Contests.

» Conducted our second virtual Silent Auction raising $4,606 to support our Youth Education programs.

» Organized and restructured the WI Envirothon into a hybrid event. The Current Issue presentations were conducted virtually and the station exams were conducted in-person outside at the Central WI Lions camp.

» After two years, we welcomed high school students back to camp at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, and we created a new middle school camp held at Upham Woods in the Wisconsin Dells.

Budget Summary

* Less than 2% direct lobbying expenses

15% 11% 37% 15% 19% 3% REVENUE County Membership Dues Events State Grants Federal Grants Foundation Grants Contributions 32% 19% 13% 14% 9% 13% EXPENDITURES Training Administrative Technical Expertise Youth Education Policy Advocacy Climate Resilience

Our Conservation Community

WI Land+Water Staff

Matt Krueger

Executive Director

Christina Anderson

Climate Resilience Program Manager

Kate Brunner

Standards Oversight Council

Program Manager

Peyton Mueller

Communications & Outreach Intern

Michael Hook

Statewide Training Coordinator

Isabelle Paulsen

Conservation Training & Membership Services Manager

Chris Schlutt Training and Events Manager

Kristin Teston

Communications Manager

Kim Warkentin

Operations Manager & Youth

Education Director

Area Association Coordinators

Lake Michigan Area

Ken Dolata, Oconto County LWCD

Lake Winnebago Area

Megan Steckelberg, Adams County LWCD

Southeast Area

Stephanie Egner, Washington County LRD

Southern Area

Todd Jenson, Green County LWCD

Western Area

Gaylord Olson II, Jackson County


West Central Area

Rod Webb, Pierce County LCD

Northwestern Area

Steve Kircher, Forest County LCD

Board of Directors

Lake Michigan

Scott Frank, Shawano County LCD

Tom Mandli, Marinette County LIC

Lake Winnebago

Brian Haase, Waupaca County LWCD

Mike Hofberger, Calumet County LWCC


Marissa Castello, Waukesha County LRD

Monte Osterman, Board Chair, Racine County LCC


Amy Piaget, Treasurer, Dane County LWRD

Melissa Luck, Richland County LCC


Bob Micheel, Vice Chair, Monroe County LCD

Mary Henry, Vernon County LCC

West Central

Chase Cummings, Dunn County LWCD

Ken Gerhardt, Clark County LCC


Ben Dufford, Bayfield County LWCD

Craig Conroy, Burnett County NRC

North Central

Carolyn Scholl, Secretary, Vilas County LWCD

Jim Winkler, Oneida County

Conservation & UW-Extension Education Committee

Committee Chairs


Bob Micheel, President, Monroe County LCD

Great Lakes

Greg Coulthurst, Door County SWCD


Kurt Calkins, Columbia County LWCD

Mississippi River Basin

Rod Webb, Pierce County LCD

Public Outreach

Katie Abbott, Iowa County LCD

Professional Improvement

Tony Reali, Calumet County LWCD


Matt Hanewall, LaCrosse County LCD

Youth Education

Tracy Arnold, Portage County LWCD


Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

UW-Madison Divison of Extension

Wisconsin Counties Association

wisconsinlandwater.org Madison, WI • (608) 441-2677
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