Treasures of Oz

Celebrating the Natural Gems of Ozaukee County

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Dale Katsma, DNR Area Wildlife Supervisor

Dale Katsma, DNR Area Wildlife SupervisorWhile there are many people and organizations working very hard to find ways to preserve working lands*, Dale Katsma has been doing this quietly, with success, since 2002, through his leadership of the North Branch Milwaukee River Wildlife and Farming Heritage Program. Visit Website

*Working land is land that is developed for agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, water re-charge, or recreation.

In Ozaukee County, we have several organizations involved in the preservation of working lands, the Ozaukee County Land Preservation Board, the Citizens Advisory Committee on Land Preservation, the Land Conservation Partnership of Ozaukee County, and, always there for support and guidance, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

All of these look to the North Branch Project, and Dale as its guide, as the inspiration and model for their current efforts. What is impressive is that Dale is extremely humble and soft-spoken about all that he has done through the DNR. He has truly built a strong network of preservation through patience and trust building with local landowners and by nurturing partnerships between the DNR and other conservation groups.

When this project began, local farmers attended the initial meeting with serious doubts, some carrying protest signs and bringing attitudes of distrust and animosity. That has changed through Dale's patient and persistent efforts in building relationships and trust. Today, there are more farmers on the waiting list than there is current capacity to preserve their lands through easements. There is great potential here as well as great accomplishment.

As of July 2011, the DNR, through this project, has purchased easements on fourteen farms, preserving 1,887 acres of farmland and fee title acquisitions on fourteen properties for 744 acres of public land. With the acquisition efforts of conservation partners included, there are more than 2046 acres preserved through conservation easements and 1,362 acres of public and land trust ownership in the project.

Treasures of Oz is pleased to recognize Dale Katsma as our Wizard of Oz for January, 2012.