Celebrating 25 years!
August 4, 2016
CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a Gala Auction on Saturday at the Clear Lake Yacht Club featuring The Dueling Pianos.
A hog roast will follow on Sunday at Kasota Island with music by Island Vibe.
CLTLC Executive Director Bridget Harrison said the two-day celebration’s theme —“Creating a Clear Future”— is meant to attract Clear Lake community members already committed to the conservancy’s mission as well as those interested in learning about planned projects.
Board President Nancy Webster said she is proud of the growth of the conservancy from a single property in 1991 to its 15 properties today. She gives credit to the sharp focus of CLTLC’s mission to “preserve, protect and manage the natural environment within the watershed and township for future generations.” Webster heads the steering committee for the 25th anniversary events along with Chad Korte, Joyce and Larry Schavey, Bill Geiger and Karen and Jack Horrell.
The 12-person volunteer board recently completed its first strategic plan and adopted a committee structure to carry out conservancy work. In its silver anniversary year, a new logo was adopted and the organization’s website —www.clearlakeconservancy.org — was updated to better reflect the conservancy’s mission and work.
A little over 25 years ago, a group of eight Clear Lakers gathered to begin forming an organization to build on the then-recent creation of the Lib Hanna Reserve, the first land in Clear Lake dedicated for open space purposes. A lake-wide survey identified three components that would guide the conservancy’s activities for the next 24 years — water quality monitoring, natural areas preservation and environmental education. The conservancy’s tax-exempt status was soon obtained.
A major advance came in 2008 when Kasota Island became part of the conservancy. Geiger recalls how the Clear Lake community came together in a series of events to raise funds for the two-acre acquisition. “Volunteers created, published and sold copies of the ‘History of Clear Lake.’ There were auctions, dinners, calendars, T-shirts, cookbooks … even a Kasota Island lager,” said Geiger. “We raised over $1.7 million to ensure that the Island remained part of the Clear Lake community, open to all.”
Since 2006, education programs such as the Knee-high Naturalists program for youngsters and Lake to Farm Visits with local farmers in Clear Lake Township have increased awareness for residents of all ages about ecology and conservation practices that impact the Clear Lake watershed. Board member Josie Kramer was behind the start of the Knee-high program 10 years ago. “Each generation needs the conservancy to foster its love of the natural wonder and the safekeeping of Clear Lake,” she said.
Harrison was hired last year as the first employee of the conservancy. She worked closely with the board in her first year to complete the creation of a 45-acre contiguous tract of wetlands and forest lands, known as the Clear Lake Nature Preserve, encompassing Brennan Woods, and to expand best management practices such as glacial stone shoreline installation.
The 25th anniversary celebrations will highlight funding of three significant conservancy projects: Kasota Island Shoreline Protection, Clear Lake Nature Preserve Restoration and Trails, and the Operating Endowment Fund expansion. Donations to the Operating Fund expansion are eligible for matching funds from the Steuben County Community Foundation’s recently announced match program in honor of its 25th anniversary.
Webster said the conservancy has stayed true to the founders’ goal of preserving Clear Lake for the enjoyment of future generations. She expects that “Creating a Clear Future” could well be the theme for the Clear Lake Land Conservancy’s 50th anniversary.
Saturday’s event is sold out. Details are at clearlakeconservancy.org.