Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program - a late winter day at Lion's Den Gorge with the sun showing through a hazy sky over Lake Michigan and trees without any leaves along the shoreline

Ozaukee County Board Votes Against Giving $1 Million to Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs Project

A motion to allocate $1 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds failed to pass, falling three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed.

The Joint Finance Committee continues to stall on reviewing Ozaukee Washington Land Trust’s (OWLT) $2.3 million grant proposal through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to help fund the purchase of the Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs Nature Preserve along Lake Michigan in Port Washington.

The grant process came to a halt with the anonymous objection of one legislator and additional news that a private buyer is interested in purchasing the property.

Get caught up on the story with a radio story by WUWM about the stalled grant, an article by Laura Schulte of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with more details on the private buyer interested in the property, and a video by local television station TMJ4 Milwaukee featuring OWLT Executive Director Tom Stolp.

In search of alternative options to cover the remaining balance to purchase the property, the land trust approached the Ozaukee County Board with the hopes of receiving an allocation of $1 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to acquire the property. However, the motion failed to pass with a 14 to 10 vote in favor of allocating the funds. Three more votes were needed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority in order to award the money.

“A two-thirds majority was always a heavy lift, but worth trying,” said OWLT Executive Director Tom Stolp. “We will have to look elsewhere to secure those funds, because so many families are counting on us to create affordable access to the outdoors. There are over 528 families and businesses who have donated to this nature preserve.”

Read about the failed County Board resolution in this article by Christina Luick of the Ozaukee County News Press and this article by the Ozaukee Press.

The land trust will continue to try to secure the remaining funding to purchase the property. OWLT has an agreement with Waukesha State Bank (the current owner of the land) to purchase the property by fall 2022 for $5 million.

Learn more about the Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs Nature Preserve and ways to support Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust on their Take Action webpage.

Featured image by Amy Bayer 2022.

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