Newell and Ann Meyer had a dream—to create a nature sanctuary, an oasis of quiet beauty amidst the hustle and bustle of southeast Wisconsin. In their lifetimes they lived their dream, purchasing and safeguarding 374 acres near Eagle. At their deaths, they entrusted their estate and their legacy to The Nature Conservancy.
Lifelong Milwaukee residents, the Meyers spent their careers with the Milwaukee Journal. Newell eventually became vice president and director of promotion and research, and Ann worked in the advertising department.
They bought their first 80 acres in the Mukwonago River watershed in 1976 as a summer retreat. They were both artists—Newell a sculptor and Ann a painter—and spent time at the property pursuing their art.
In 2006, upon Newell Meyer’s death (his wife Ann died in 2004), the couple left their land near Eagle, cash and assets worth an estimated $12.5 million to the Conservancy to help conserve land and water in the Mukwonago River watershed. It is the largest donation ever made in Wisconsin for conservation.
The Meyers’ land is located about three miles northwest of the Conservancy’s Lulu Lake and Crooked Creek preserves. It includes oak savanna, prairie, wetlands and spring outlets that comprise the headwaters of the northern branch of the Mukwonago River, the cleanest stream in southeast Wisconsin. The area provides nesting habitat for sandhill cranes, a favorite of the Meyers, as well as stopover habitat for numerous birds that migrate through the area each year in the spring and fall.
In spring 2008, the Conservancy dedicated the property as the Newell and Ann Meyer Nature Preserve and opened it to the public for hiking, birdwatching, photography and other recreational activities.
“People leave their mark on the future in many ways,” said Mary Jean Huston, Conservancy director in Wisconsin. “Newell and Ann Meyer loved nature and, in particular, this special place, and they wanted to ensure that it would always be here for others to enjoy.”