When you think of the treasures of Ozaukee County, the wide open spaces of farmland and conservation lands come to mind. We are rich in beautiful land, but so was the City of Milwaukee many years ago. Once developed, it is hard to imagine the once sparkling waters, the rich forests and the rolling meadows.
There are many efforts afoot in Ozaukee to preserve our lands and waters for the farming economy, outdoor recreation, conservation and diversity of species and last, but far from least, water recharge. Leading the way for farmland preservation, Tim Kaul has had a huge impact on keeping Ozaukee's lands open. Tim walks the walk for farmland preservation all the way. For his incredible leadership on this path, we are honored to name him Wizard of Oz for the month of March.
Most recently, Tim and his family donated a forty-one acre agricultural easement* to Ozaukee County, something that will keep that land in agriculture in perpetuity. At the same time, they donated another parcel in the Ulao Creek watershed, as part of a series of easements, to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust for conservation land. The latest one protects the headwaters of Ulao Creek as it flows out of the Ulao Swamp on Kaul's Lake Winds Elk Farm.
Tim began his conservation leadership as a founding member of the Ulao Creek Partnership and as a supervisor for the Town of Grafton, where he initiated an open space preservation study that led to the formation of a permanent Open Space Commission to protect lands in the Town of Grafton. From there, he continued on this path as the first chairperson of the Land Conservation Partnership of Ozaukee County, an organization focused on the protection of working lands ( agricultural) and conservation lands. LCPOZ had a long term goal of seeing Ozaukee County create a land preservation board and pass an ordinance to accept easements. Tim was elected as a county board supervisor and began working on an initiative to do just that.
Under Tim's leadership at the county board a Land Preservation Board was established in 2010. Tim was elected to chair that board. The Ozaukee County Board moved on to pass an ordinance that allowed the county to accept and hold easements of working lands. All that was missing was the first donated easement.
Tim and his family made that happen on February 1, 2012. While easements are normally purchased through public funds and grants, the Kaul easement was a full donation. Tim hopes that this easement,will inspire other local landowners to follow and consider easement donations or sales to continue to the preservation of working lands and the farming economy in Ozaukee.
Treasures of Oz is proud to have Tim as the Wizard of Oz for March 2012. This wizard has begun the process of helping all of us through our county government take an active role in preserving our working lands and he has made a significant contribution through the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust to preserve our conservation lands, This is the kind of magic that lasts forever.
*An easement is a binding contract that is attached to the deed of a property. It specifies that the parcel will remain as agricultural land, or conservation land or a combination of these. There may be provisions for some limited building on the property. The land remains on the tax roll and can be sold or inherited but the easement stays with the land. Many states have large areas of working lands permanently protected by easements and more states are moving in that direction. Working lands are considered to be developed for agriculture and the practice is considered sound economic policy.