Dan Burke, executive director of Door County Land Trust (DCLT), was recognized at a ceremony in Madison on Sept. 24 as Conservationist of the Year, a title awarded by Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts.
Burke has been helping DCLT become a treasured and highly respected institution for nearly 20 years. Under his leadership, DCLT has preserved more than 7,000 acres of land in one of the state’s most beautiful and ecologically diverse counties, and has grown its membership to more than 2,200.
His dedication and leadership skills have been crucial to DCLT’s success. He has led many challenging easement negotiations and spearheaded efforts to raise the funds needed to further the organization’s mission. He’s built a talented and capable staff, and forged strong working partnerships with numerous conservation groups, enabling them to more effectively preserve Door County’s shoreline, wetlands, habitat and scenic areas through collaboration, leveraging each other’s skills and resources. This has strengthened land conservation as a whole in northern Wisconsin and it provides public accessibility to natural areas and outdoor recreation to thousands of people each year.
Other winners of Gathering Water’s annual Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration included:
- Land Trust of the Year: Green Lake Conservancy, which has protected 17 properties and more than 700 acres of watershed lands.
- Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award: Harold Friestad of the Village of Williams Bay. His involvement was essential to purchase and protect a 2,310-acre parcel on Geneva Lake and turn it into the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy.
- Policymaker of the Year: Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay), Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) and Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) stepped up as champions of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program during the 2015 state budget process.
- Rod Nilsestuen Award for Working Lands Preservation: Don Hawkins of Mineral Point spent 32 years as an exemplary teacher of agriculture at Mineral Point High School before retiring to become a shining example of community engagement. His teaching led to better land management techniques over the years, and his leadership in retirement has resulted in 430 acres of exhausted farmland becoming a spectacular place for all to enjoy, while local schools have gained more than 20 acres of oak savanna and tall-grass prairie to use and learn from.