Nature Conservancy Acquisition Protects Major Water Source for Mukwonago River
East Troy, WI
The Nature Conservancy announced today that it has purchased nearly 79 acres of forest and wetlands, shoreline along a small stream and several large springs west of Eagle Spring Lake in Waukesha County. The spring-fed stream on the property is a major source of water feeding the Mukwonago River.
“The volume of water in the stream on this property is similar in quantity to half the flow in Jericho Creek, which is the largest tributary to the Mukwonago River,” says Sarah Gatzke, Nature Conservancy freshwater scientist. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to protect the springs that feed this stream and provide a major source of the water downstream in the Mukwonago.”
For a small river, the Mukwonago has a high number of fish species, some of which are uncommon in southeast Wisconsin because they are sensitive to pollution.
“Overall water quality in the Mukwonago River is excellent,” says Gatzke. “This is due in large part to the wetlands and other natural buffers that occur along the stream corridor and filter pollutants before they enter the river.”
The land acquired by the Conservancy has also been identified by the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission as an important area for replenishing the local supply of groundwater.
“Some parts of the Mukwonago River watershed are particularly important to the long-term health and security of our local groundwater supply, and this is one of them,” says Gatzke. “As the area grows, protecting these lands will be critical to ensure a consistent supply of clean, safe water.”
Previous landowners built several ponds and large water control structures on the property. The structures have changed the way the water flows and made it warmer.
“We can do some simple things now to return a more natural flow to the stream,” says Gatzke, “but a more intensive effort will be required to restore a free-flowing, connected stream and potentially bring back the kind of cold-water stream habitat that native trout would find attractive.”
Similar to the Conservancy’s other nature preserves in the area, this property will be open to the public for walking, wildlife and bird watching, hunting and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Nature Conservancy staff are preparing the property for visitation, and it will be open by fall 2019.
Partial funding for the acquisition was provided by The Priebe Family Foundation. The Nature Conservancy has also applied for a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program grant to cover a portion of the cost to protect the property and will be fundraising for the remainder.
Questions about the land and public access can be directed to the organization’s Mukwonago River watershed office in East Troy at 262-642-7276.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.