About Us

EagleRiverThe Northwoods Land Trust was incorporated in 2001 as a nonprofit, tax-exempt conservation organization. The organization grew out of regional lake leader training workshops where lake organization leaders and lake property owners expressed a need for permanent protection options for natural lake shorelands.  Lake protection remains among the highest priorities for NWLT.

In 2003, NWLT’s first two conservation easement donations were signed – both on lakes in Vilas County. Bryan Pierce became the first employee as Executive Director in 2004.

NWLT is committed to excellence in our land protection work. In 2013, the Northwoods Land Trust earned the Land Trust Seal of Accreditation from the National Land Trust Accreditation Commission. Our conservation work continues with a staff of one full-time Executive Director, a part-time Conservation Specialist, an outstanding Board of Directors and over 30 dedicated volunteers.

Since our inception the Northwoods Land Trust has assisted many private landowners in conserving their family lands for generations to come. At the close of 2015, we had protected 79 properties in seven northwoods counties. Now, over 10,000 acres of woodlands, wetlands and wildlife habitat, and 50 miles of natural lake, river and stream frontage are protected forever!

Read More about NWLT’s Story


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a land trust?

Generally, a land trust (or “conservancy”) is a non-profit, tax exempt organization that conserves land through holding conservation easements, owning and managing donated land, acquiring land or easements, or any combination of these.  Land trusts typically work in partnership with private landowners, communities and other conservation organizations, and the work they do is permanent. Some land trusts are run entirely by volunteers while others have paid staff. Oversight of the land trust is through a volunteer board of directors. There are over 50 land trusts in Wisconsin and over 1,700 land trusts nationwide.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement, or land protection agreement, is a legally binding agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization that permanently limits the uses and development on a property. The property typically remains private. The term of the easement is “in perpetuity” … or forever.

Is the land that is conserved open to the public?

While landowners with  conservation easements on their lands retain private ownership, the Northwoods Land Trust does own four conservation lands outright.  These four properties are open for public use.  Click here for more information on those properties.

All other properties that have been conserved by NWLT through conservation easements are privately owned and generally not accessible by the public. Like other private lands, permission to access the property must be obtained from the landowner. However, if a property is also enrolled in the state’s Managed Forest Law (MFL) program and classified as “open,” then it is open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and cross-country skiing. An on-line map of MFL lands open to public access is available through the Wisconsin DNR website.

Where does the Northwoods Land Trust receive funding from?

NWLT relies on members, donors, foundations and grants for funding its conservation work.  Click here to view NWLT’s annual reports.  Our members are a very important part of continuing our work of keeping the northwoods the northwoods.  Please consider a joining and supporting NWLT!

How can I protect my land?

There are a number of land protection options available.  Please visit this page for more information, contact NWLT at 715.479.2490 or email us at nwlt@northwoodslandtrust.org.