Sunset at Lulu Lake, long shadows over stream and wildflowers, with trees in background
Lulu Lake Preserve at dusk , Wisconsin © Gerald H. Emmerich, Jr.

Places We Protect

Mukwonago River Watershed


This river is one of the cleanest streams in southeastern Wisconsin.


A mosaic of forest, wetlands, savannas, rivers, and lakes, the Mukwonago River Watershed is a natural treasure located about 35 minutes from Milwaukee.

The Mukwonago River is one of the cleanest streams in southeastern Wisconsin and provides important habitat for rare fish and mussels. The surrounding landscape is home to a wide array of native plants and wildlife, including sandhill cranes, tree frogs, mink, red fox, butterflies and dragonflies.

Who We Are

The Nature Conservancy is a leading global conservation organization working around the world to protect the land and water on which all life depends.

For centuries, early settlers and their descendents have cared for the lands in the Mukwonago River Watershed, making it one of the highest quality waterways in the state. In 1983, The Nature Conservancy joined that partnership, first protecting and later purchasing the former Milwaukee Boys Club Camp.

Today, the Conservancy owns 1,946 acres within the watershed and has helped to protect an additional 799 acres through its work with individual landowners and  partner organizations. A group of dedicated volunteers has been vital in helping staff maintain an active science and land management program.

Our Conservation Goals

Protecting the water quality of and natural areas within the Mukwonago River Watershed.

  • Managing our preserves to maintain rare natural communities and provide habitat for fish, mussels, amphibians and reptiles.
  • Working with individuals and organizations to promote long-term conservation within the watershed.
  • Working to protect the watershed while balancing human needs and economic health in the region.

How We Accomplish Our Goals

Development of conservation partnerships that leverage conservation activities throughout the watershed

  • Land acquisition from willing sellers and generous donors.
  • Conservation easements (voluntary legal agreements that protect the conservation value of a piece of land by permanently limiting its present and future uses while keeping it in private ownership).
  • Land management, such as burn workshops.

We work with partners as part of the Mukwonago River Initiative—a group of about 20 organizations, individuals and state and local agency representatives—to identify threats to the watershed and coordinate our efforts to address those threats. The shared knowledge of the partners is one of the strengths the group leverages to be successful. We’ve compiled this shared knowledge—useful documents, datasets, photos, stories and other information that pertains to the Mukwonago River Watershed—into a database to serve as an index of works on the watershed. You can find it on Conservation Gateway at this link.

Conservancy Natural Areas in the Mukwonago River Watershed

The Conservancy owns 1,946 acres at four preserves in the Mukwonago Watershed, including:

The Conservancy has helped protect a total of 2,745 acres in the Mukwonago Watershed. This figure includes lands owned and managed by the Conservancy, conservation easements, government co-ops and assists.

How You Can Get Involved

If you are interested in volunteering to help with land management, please contact our office in East Troy at 262/642-7276 to be added to our email list for notification of land stewardship work parties.

The Nature Conservancy has other preserves around the state that are open for public use for low-impact recreation — hiking, bird-watching, nature study and photography. Deer hunting is allowed at the preserves.

Nature Conservancy Staff

Debra Bacon, Mukwonago Project Assistant
Sarah Gatzke, Freshwater Strategy Manager
Jerry Ziegler, Mukwonago Land Steward

If you have any questions about The Nature Conservancy's Mukwonago River Watershed project, please call us at (262) 642-7276 or stop by our office on the west side of Pickerel Lake on Pickerel Lake Road.