The Geneva Lake Conservancy has completed a 556-acre conservation easement in northwest Walworth County to protect critical habitat for endangered species and species of concern. The property, located in the towns of Darien and Richmond on County Road M and Town Line Road, is approximately four miles northwest of Delavan.
Comprised of more than 270 acres of woodland, a dozen kettle ponds and 240 acres of agricultural land, the property provides ideal habitat for the Blanding’s turtle, which is a species of concern in Wisconsin. The property is also in the critical habitat area for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and a State Endangered Species.
Property owner Ron Piening, a retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources employee, began purchasing the parcels of land in 1965. Over the last 50 years, Piening has managed the property by planting hundreds of native trees and removing invasive species. He also operated a Christmas tree farm on part of the property for more than 40 years.
Under the conservation easement agreement, Piening and staff of the Geneva Lake Conservancy will continue to develop a management plan for the land. “We want to build on all of the restoration work Mr. Piening has completed,” says Karen Yancey, the Conservancy’s executive director. “Mr. Piening’s efforts to protect this important habitat is a gift to future generations and will help improve the ecological health of the area.”