“Cold, Clean and Free . . . Forever!”
The slogan above was part of the message in a Resolution the KRLT Board delivered to the River Falls City Council at the start of the City of River Falls Kinni Corridor Committee Planning process. It is but part of the audacious challenge KRLT embraced 25 years ago to conserve and protect the Kinni and its watershed for future generations. While the majority of the stream is healthy and supports tremendous numbers of trout, dam removal emerged as the most immediate action that could be taken to assure the long-term health of the river.
During that 25 years, the KRLT board of directors, staff, landowners, volunteers, supporters and like-minded conservation organizations have succeeded in protecting over 3,000 acres of land, 10 miles of Kinni shoreline and over 5 miles of shoreline on key tributaries. As we celebrate our silver anniversary, KRLT and its allies can find hope in a shared vision with the City of a free-flowing river. The issue is when. We are committed to working with the City to find environmentally sound and fiscally prudent means to expedite the dam removal process.
Protecting our landscapes, groundwater flow and quality of surface water are key and critical to the health of the Kinni. We can take heart in the fact that we are not alone in fighting the battle to preserve our beautiful river. Numerous citizens, students, elected officials, organizations, and agencies have joined in the effort. We are well-known and respected for the work we have done. We will continue to lead conservation efforts by example and actions.
Thank you to all of our supporters over the past 25 years. The success of KRLT is a testament to how strongly the Kinni flows through the hearts of each and every one of you! Please enjoy reflecting upon the Kinni and remember to look ahead to a future where the hope continues to be: Cold, Clean and Free . . . Forever!
Over 25 Years of Accomplishments:
- 34 Conservation Easements
- 3 Preserves
- 3,000+ acres of protected land
- 10 miles of protected stream bank
1993 – Kinnickinnic River Land Trust Founded
December 14th KRLT files Articles of Incorporation and receives 501(c)3 tax exempt status.
1994 – Kinnickinnic River nominated as a Wisconsin Priority Watershed Project.
1995 – Florence, Clarke and Robert Chambers donate KRLT’s first conservation easement on 22 acres on the banks of the Kinni River in the Town of Clifton.
Greg Erickson and Jamie McNaughton donate a conservation easement on 68 acres of land along the river in the lower Kinnickinnic canyon.
1996 – Maureen Ash and Richard Purdy donate a conservation easement on 195 acres of their Rocky Branch farm.
1997 – Five easements totaling 190 acres are donated by Rob Chambers, Doug Johnson, and Patrice Veit, Greg Erickson and Jamie McNaughton, and Roald Evensen and Pamela Thurow.
1998 – KRLT purchases most of Kelly Creek from Allan Klein and Harriet Lansing. They also donate a conservation easement on the remaining 22.5 acres of land allowing KRLT to permanently protect an entire tributary to the Kinnickinnic River.
1999 – KRLT purchases 53 acres of the “Swinging Gate”, a river access point on Highway 65, north of River Falls.
Keith and Barb Avise donate a 20-acre conservation easement of wetlands, Kinni River frontage and uplands. They also donate daytime public use of the riverbank that borders the Kinni.
2000 – KRLT purchases the 110-acre Kersten Farm in the Town of Warren, which includes the main stem of the Kinni, the South Branch tributary, springs, wetlands, native plants, and upland habitat. The property also borders 100-acre Concordia land and over 100 acres of DNR land.
2001 – Bill Rasmussen Family and Mary Jane Madden donate 25 acres of land in the lower Kinnickinnic canyon adjoining the Kinnickinnic State Park. This is the first outright fee land donation to KRLT.
2002 – KRLT purchases conservation easement on a 280-acre farm owned by Jerry and Judy Edgar, located in the Town of Clifton. This is KRLT’s largest and most expensive single conservation project in the organization’s history.
John and Linda Eggert donate a conservation easement on 130 acres of land in the Town of River Falls, South Fork watershed.
2003 – KRLT purchases conservation easement on 253-acre Rohling Acres Farm owned by John and Jeanne Rohl located in the Town of Clifton. The land is placed in a Farmland Preservation Zone.
2004 – “Headwaters Project Area” is completed with the protection of the remaining 17 acres of Dorwes Farms in The Town of Warren owned by David and Cheryl Cowles. This is in addition to 23 acres of land that were protected in 2003. These lands border a 291 acre WDNR Wildlife Management area.
2005 – Brian and Sheila Schils donate a conservation easement on 10 acres in The Town of River Falls.
2006 – Richard and Finette Magnuson donate a conservation easement on 10 acres of land south of lower Kinnickinnic canyon.
KRLT purchases the remaining 14 acres and “Kinni Cabin” from Rasmussen Family and Mary Jane Madden.
2007 – KRLT purchases conservation easement on 195 acres on Lyle and Roberta Johnson’s farm located in Towns of River Falls and Clifton.
KRLT purchases 45.5 acres from Eric and Jerilyn Jackson in lower Kinnickinnic canyon to establish public fishing access to the Kinni Canyon.
2008 – As part of the Kinnickinnic River Priority Watershed program, KRLT works to improve the water quality of the South Fork subwatershed by assisting landowners with implementing conservation practices on their properties focused on reducing erosion and stabilizing stream banks. (The South Fork has become one of the best brook trout fisheries in Wisconsin!)
2009 – KRLT is the first Wisconsin land trust to be awarded national accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
KRLT, with the assistance of many partnering groups, purchases 204 acres from Vern and Becky Nagel in St. Croix County. KRLT donates the property to the WDNR for inclusion in the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area.
2010 – KRLT partners with Wisconsin DNR and Kinni Chapter of Pheasants Forever to acquire 232 acres from the Manion family in The Town of Clifton. 158.4 acres is transferred to DNR as a wildlife management area with the remainder of the property sold to private landowners with conservation easements.
Thanks to partnerships with private individuals, state and federal grants, and the support of the McNeely Foundation, KRLT protects 3 strategic land parcels totaling 542 acres both up and downstream from the City of River Falls. The total cost of these properties is $3,630,996. KRLT borrows $801,000 from the McNeely Foundation with payment due March 30, 2018.
2011 – KRLT and WDNR initiate planning process to establish Swinging Gate Fish & Wildlife Area consisting of 158 acres between Highway 65 and Quarry Road. This permanently protects this critical habitat from residential subdivision, thus implementing a key growth control strategy to protect the Upper River Corridor.
2012 – KRLT completes the School District of River Falls’ School Forest Protection Project. KRLT was able to protect the 55 acre School Forest property with a permanent conservation easement and facilitate a protected land exchange with neighbors Lyle and Roberta Johnson.
2013 – KRLT finalizes its first urban project with the acquisition and protection of 4.34 acres of land and 700 feet of Kinni River frontage on Riverside Drive in the City of River Falls. In partnership with attorney Chuck Bye and the City, KRLT secures State Stewardship funding for the purchase and then transfers the property to the City with a conservation easement in place.
KRLT successfully completes the monitoring of 32 easements and 3 properties with a team of 20 volunteers. More than 2,000 acres of land were monitored by volunteers who spent in excess of 150 hours of their time doing the work. Monitoring was previously done by KRLT staff.
2014 – Seven super volunteers produce the first annual River Falls Fly Fishing Festival (R4F) and give all $2,410 proceeds to KRLT!
Kinni Guardian memberships are established to provide critical operating support.
2015 – KRLT is the first Wisconsin land trust to be awarded national accreditation renewal by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
Heavy emphasis is placed on managing operations to retire debt with leadership from Dale Jorgenson and Judie Babcock and other KRLT board members. An active, hands-on board was key to sustaining this organization.
2016 – Michael Miller and Susan Goode donate a conservation easement on 14+ acres of lower Kinni blufflands.
With major support from the McKnight Foundation and Wisconsin DNR, the KRLT completes a Community Report on the Kinnickinnic Priority Watershed Project and a Kinnickinnic River Watershed Strategic Action Plan. The Report summarizes the results of ten years of Kinni watershed work and the Strategic Plan establishes a new Kinni Watershed Partnership and charts ongoing and future efforts to manage the watershed.
2017 – Live stream monitoring technology comes to the lower Kinni through the cooperative funding efforts of KRLT, the US Geological Service, and the City of River Falls. The monitoring system is in place just north of the Co. F Bridge. Water depth and clarity in real time can be checked on KRLT’s website.
The Kinni Corridor Planning process is established. KRLT Executive Director Dave Fodroczi is a key committee member.
2018 – Our 25th Year! Thanks to leadership-level gifts from the Wilkening and Drewiske families and other private donors, KRLT is now debt-free and moving forward to ensure our “special places” can be protected and conserved responsibly now, and in generations to come.
2021 – On January 29th KRLT finalized the purchase of the fourth preserve, The Community Forest on the Kinni. The fundraising of this property was truly a community effort.
It has been an honor to follow in the footsteps of so many who have done so much for so long to help preserve and enhance the extraordinary natural resource we have in the Kinnickinnic River. As KRLT enters its 25th year with full knowledge of the challenges we face to conserve and protect the river for future generations, it is helpful to know we are carrying on work that began in the early 1950’s . . . three generations ago.
If you want to help KRLT in our efforts to conserve and protect the Kinni and its watershed, please let us know your interests and area of expertise – we’ll find a place for you!
Founding Steering Committee Members
- Ray Anderson
- Phil Betzel
- Pat Casanova
- Robert Chambers
- Judy Edgar
- Greg Erickson
- Susan Goode
- Sheila Harsdorf
- Skip James
- Doug Johnson
- Rita Kozak
- Richard Magnuson
- Finette Magnuson
- Mike Miller
- Mike Most
- Keith Rodli
- Angie Tornes
Founding Board Members
- Barbara Butler
- Pat Casanova
- Robert Chambers
- Judy Edgar
- Susan Goode
- Art Kaemmer
- Vern Kusilek
- Paddy McNeely
- Virgil Nylander
- Keith Rodli
- Dan Wilcox