The Andersen family established the Gustav and Elizabeth Johnson preserve in 1996. The preserve was formalized when Julian Anderson donated a conservation easement to the West Wisconsin Land Trust in 2016 and sold the property to the Deer Lake Conservancy in early 2017. The Preserve is now available for generations of Deer Lake residents and the public to enjoy for many years to come. This 95 acre parcel has 425 feet of lake front including a lagoon.
The Preserve’s wetland ponds and shallow wet depressions capture significant watershed runoff, preventing the delivery of sediments and nutrients to the lake and allowing infiltration to recharge the springs which feed the lake. A 2016 Conservancy project on the very east side of the property further increased water holding-capacity of a pond to reduce downstream erosion to Dry Creek and Deer Lake.
The trails that wind through the property showcase the many native woodland plants, birds, and animals that call the Preserve home. The Preserve will be managed to support these species including the Red Shouldered Hawk, listed as threatened in Wisconsin. Results of biologist surveys of preserve plant and animal life and the management plan are available by clicking this link: Management Plan / Plant-Animal Survey
A non-motorized trail system provides a link to the Rock Creek trails to the west and the Dry Creek trails to the east, with parking available on either side. The terrain is surprisingly varied and there are stunning woodland and open field views from the trail.
A water quality project was installed in 2016 to slow water flow from the ponds on the eastern edge of the preserve which receive agricultural runoff from north of 140th Avenue. The resulting ponding area allows runoff water to settle and release slowly to reduce significant erosion along an intermittent stream channel which flows to Dry Creek then directly to Deer Lake. A grant provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources paid for 75 percent of the cost of this installation.