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Ozaukee Land Trust gets final push it needs to purchase and preserve lakefront property

The land trust says the deadline to close on the property is Sept. 20.​
Posted at 5:21 PM, Aug 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-18 18:21:55-04

OZAUKEE COUNTY — It was an announcement that moved people to tears. The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust now has the money it needs to be able to purchase and preserve the 132-acre Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs property that lies along Lake Michigan.

"Today, everybody across Wisconsin is a winner, everyone," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary, Preston Cole.

"Conserve Cedar Gorge is a reality," exclaimed Ozaukee Washington Land Trust development director, Leona Knobloch.

For the past four months, the land trust has been trying to raise the additional $1.6 million in funding they needed to buy the property after an unexpected hurdle stopped them in their tracks. The non-profit was supposed to receive a $2.3 million grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program earlier in the year.

Ozaukee Land Trust to purchase, preserve lakefront property

"​That grant was halted anonymously by lawmakers and this community was outraged​," said Tom Stolp, the executive director of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

That's when Governor Tony Evers decided to step in and instead use $2.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the land trust's mission to preserve the bluffs.

"​Gov. Evers saw what was wrong and it was wrong that a grant that was transparently awarded to our community was thwarted for no reason. It was held up for no reason, and he fixed what was wrong​," said Stolp.

"​When they brought the check out I didn't believe that that would ever happen​," said Knobloch.

Now the land trust has the $5.2 million they need to buy the property and transform it into a space for people to enjoy the outdoors while also protecting wildlife.

"It is a joyful day for all of us present but also for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren and it's a win for the entire community," said Ozaukee County resident, Jennifer Rothstein.

The land trust says the deadline to close on the property is Sept. 20.

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