The Dells of the Wisconsin River contains some of the most beautiful and threatened scenic and recreation resources in the Midwestern United States. Increasing pressure for riverfront development in the Dells area threatens to mar the natural beauty of the Dells of the Wisconsin River with highly visible resorts, condominiums and homes, degrading the environment and forever changing the natural beauty of the Dells.


Since April 2006, the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River has sought to protect the 15 miles of shore frontage along the Upper and Lower Dells from Nine Eagles to the Rocky Islands, including such famous landmarks as Stand Rock and the Rocky Islands of the Lower Dells, by supporting the work of the DNR, local and county governments, businesses, landowners, and civic groups and concerned citizens with an interest in preserving the beauty and environment of the Dells of the Wisconsin River.

Issues & Action

We work with the Natural Heritage Land Trust to preserve and protect land in the Dells of the Wisconsin River State Natural Area acquisition zone. We are members of the River Alliance of Wisconsin and the Little Eagle Arts Foundation.


The Stewards were formed out of a concern that development should not be visible from the water along the Wisconsin River corridor from Nine Eagles north of Louis’ Bluff to the Rocky Islands in the Lower Dells.


On June 24, 2007, the City of Wisconsin Dells under the leadership of Mayor Craig Casey adopted a new zoning code which established a shoreland buffer zone and overlay district. Because the code will allow exceptions if the 200′ zone creates a “hardship” for the landowner, Stewards will have to be vigilant about potential development plans.


In May of 2007, the Stewards hosted a water safety panel. As a result of this meeting,  the Stewards began working with several partners to place caution buoys at the head and foot of the Narrows. With support from the City of Wisconsin Dells, the Wisconsin DNR, the Dells Boat Tours, and Representative Fred Clark, the Wisconsin state legislature has created a no-wake zone in the Narrows from Chapel Gorge to Coldwater Canyon.


In January of 2008, the board of directors of the Natural Heritage Land Trust, which has since morphed into Groundswell, agreed to work with the Stewards to create conservation easements in the Dells of the Wisconsin River State Natural Area acquisition lands. With leadership from the children and grandchildren of the Arnold and Crystal Priester family, money has been raised to assist willing landowners to protect the river with easements.


In April of 2016, Camp Upham Woods constructed a fence to block a well-established and popular canoe/kayak launch on the Old River Bed on the west side of Black Hawk Island next to County Road N aka Stand Rock Road. The Stewards have been meeting with representatives of Upham Woods and UW-Extension in an attempt to find a mutually agreeable solution to the problem caused by loss of safe access to the Upper Dells river channel.

In the fall of 2016, the Stewards worked with the Wisconsin Dells Rotary Club and Vertical Illusions to install a Quiet Craft Launch with a floating dock in the Wisconsin Dells Marina on Illinois Avenue in Crandall Bay.


The Stewards are proud to support our upstream neighbors, the Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards (PACRS), who convinced our state legislators to fund the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load of phosphorus) Project as a key factor in the Wisconsin River Basin Water Quality Improvement Project. Working through the River Alliance, the Stewards are urging the legislature to implement the recommendations of the study to stop the growth of dangerous algal blooms.

Think Globally

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Electrical items

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green factory

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If you are interested in joining the Stewards, please let us know. We will contact you as soon as possible.

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