WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2008

Stewards to help secure easement

By Andy Steinke, Dells Events

When the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River established itself in 2006, its mission was to preserve and protect the scenic, historic, geological and archaeological features and ecological well-being of the river.

Wednesday night, more than two and a half years later, President Debbie Kinder announced the group will have its first chance to accomplish that mission.

The group decided during its annual meeting to help high school art teacher Anne Klein protect and preserve her land for all time.

Klein recently purchased a 1.6 acre wooded plot of land on County Highway N  adjacent to Captain Soma's Dells Cruises  that overlooks the Wisconsin River.

The lot is very narrow and actually extends below the river and onto a very small section of Black Hawk Island.

The previous owners lived on the property for 90 years, Klein said during her presentation of the lot. They never developed the land, and they never wanted it to be developed.

They had it on the market for three summers before they finally sold it to Klein, who said she wanted to keep it in its natural state.

"Since high school I've wanted to put land aside to preserve it," Klein said.

So where do the Stewards come in?

To ensure that the land is preserved forever, Klein will be applying for a land trust from the Natural Heritage Land Trust, a non-profit organization based in Madison.

The Land Trust has ways, Kinder said, to obtain money from the state's Stewardship Fund, which was established to protect land in Wisconsin.

However, the Land Trust needs an endowment to protect the land from future development and possible lawsuits, should Klein ever sell it.

Kinder said Klein does not yet know how much her endowment will be, but they are typically $15,000. Klein does not have that kind of money just laying around, so the Stewards agreed to help her raise funds so she can afford the endowment.

Since Klein is volunteering to protect her land from development, it will be worth less monetarily because there will be an easement on the land that prevents it from ever being developed.

The Stewardship Fund, however, will give her some money to cover the difference in her current appraised value and the value the land will have once it is protected.