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May 15, 2014

Geoff Maclay Reflects on CLCF’s 40th Anniversary

The history of Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation started in 1972 when our two daughters asked if we could mimic the Nantucket Conservation Foundation concept in the Big Cedar Lakes Watershed. For background, Nantucket Conservation Foundation is 50 years old this year. On an island 34 miles at sea, the populace has protected 50% of the acreage of that island. We’ve often been accused of plagiarism and it is true – much of what Nantucket has shared with us has simplified our task locally.

CLCF’s legal origin started on January 10th, 1974 with three fabulous signatures on its Articles of Incorporation. We then obtained a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt authorization. We can all look back and thank the 11 initial donors (five of whom are still alive today) for their initial donation of $1,500 each (in 1970’s dollars). There has been a lot of subsequent amusement in remembering those discussions with those wonderful gentlemen.

So now, in 40 years, although we have not been as successful as Nantucket, CLCF has protected 57 properties, encompassing 2,342.65 acres and has a positive financial record.

Probably the greatest asset accumulated by Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation is the recognition of our county-wide goal of setting aside natural areas for future generations. Think of the people who became verbally aware of their own love of the area, and the wonderful people that each of us has become friends with in this mission. Basically, our ability to accumulate open space was driven by that awareness in 3 main ways. Let’s not analyze all of the preserved areas in detail, just consider the philosophy that drives each:

Our wonderful donors embodied by their annual gifting allow the Foundation to become self-sufficient. Our annual gifting provides for that stamina and every so often a 92 year old past resident makes a major contribution so that others can enjoy what her family had in the past — the Helen Klingler/Fox Hill Memorial prospers today, even though the young lady is no longer with us.

There are many examples of families whose various members had different needs. Just look at how the West family preserved for future generations the southern hogsback between Gilbert Lake and northern Big Cedar. Of the six siblings, some no longer live in the area, there were siblings who wanted to cash out and there was one sibling’s family who wanted to remain on the property. All were accommodated and in 2019, the existing buildings will be demolished by CLCF and WDNR and a completely natural area will be available for all. Walk it, you’ll like it, even if though it doesn’t have the 60’s look.

There are properties that older residents have had the capability of donating to the Foundation, all or in part. A good example is the 82 acre Rudorf Farm on the west side of Big Cedar Lake. Passed to CLCF on the death of Mr. Rudorf after he made CRAT provisions for his wife prior to her moving to New Mexico. Consider the number of people who currently walk and ski the trails, as was his desire lo these many years ago.

It is with knowledge of all these factors that Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundations’ history should be known for all its lands and enjoyed by future generations.

— Geoff Maclay | May 2014