Sandy and rocky shoreline of Lake Michigan with scrub grass at dawn.

New grant key in race to buy Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs

Ozaukee County is likely to receive $450,000 in federal funds to purchase the property that is being eyed by an anonymous developer.

The Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs Nature Preserve is one step closer to reality with the tentative award of a $450,000 federal grant to Ozaukee County to help pay for the 131-acre property in Port Washington, according to the Ozaukee Press.

This source of funding is the latest in a series of attempts to raise the remaining amount needed for Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) to purchase the property after an approved $2.3 million Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program grant was stalled by an anonymous legislator on the state’s Joint Finance Committee. Get caught up on the story with reporting by the Journal Sentinel and Ozaukee Press.

This new grant would be a key source of funding, bringing the remaining amount needed to about half a million dollars, said Andrew Struck, Ozaukee County’s director of planning and parks.

“We still have fundraising to do, but we feel we’re pretty close,” Struck said. “It doesn’t mean we’re all the way there, but we’re narrowing the gap. We’re hoping to close the gap shortly.”

The grant, which is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Natural Resources Office of Great Waters, is expected to be officially approved in July.

The land trust has been doing a lot of fundraising on its own. Tom Stolp, executive director of OWLT, is confident it will be able to raise the $5 million needed to finalize the purchase by the deadline of September 20, 2022.

Those in favor of the nature preserve continue to support the project both vocally and financially. According to Stolp, more than 850 businesses and households from 18 different states have so far contributed to the fundraising campaign.

“We would love to see the Finance Committee commit to this project, but we’re putting our heads down and raising the funds to make sure we can forever conserve this property,” Stolp said.

Featured image by Ken Mattison, 2016.

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