"No man can own the Dells. He can only be its custodian for a time." - George H. Crandall
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The mission of the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River is to preserve and protect the unique scenic, historic, geological, and archaeological features and ecological well-being of the Wisconsin Dells river corridor from Nine Eagles at the mouth of the Lemonweir River south to the Rocky Islands in the Lower Dells and to promote good stewardship practices and responsible land and water use through education, advocacy, and coalition-building.

View of Wisconsin River
Photo Courtesy Kristi Helland    


With this goal in mind, our top priorities are:

  • to raise funds to facilitate the purchase of conservancy easements on the Upper and Lower Dells river corridor in conjunction with the Natural Heritage Land Trust,
  • to work with the Wisconsin DNR to extend the boundaries of the State Natural Area,
  • to work with the townships of Delton, Dell Prairie, Lyndon and Newport, and the Village of Lake Delton, to create at least a 200-foot conservancy zone along the along the Dells river corridor,
  • to offer accurate information to landowners and local governments concerning sustainable development and zoning options available to them that are consistent with protecting the Dells river corridor,
  • to achieve uniformity in the aesthetic standards and guidelines all along the Wisconsin River and work toward beautiful, litter-free, sign-free communities bordering the river,
  • to protect and enhance native ecosystems along the river corridor by working with landowners and local governments, and
  • to promote river safety for all recreational users of the river corridor.
View of Wisconsin River
Photo Courtesy Kristi Helland    


The Stewards will employ the following strategies to work toward our goals and priorities:

  • Form close working relationships with each land owner and each local government entity along the corridor in order to engage in conversation about optimizing the scenic, ecological and development potential of their property.
  • Offer resource handbooks/toolkits to local governments and landowners which would include the following information:
    • Shoreline development guidelines based on existing county, township, city and village laws which can be used to protect the river corridor by limiting signs along the river to those needed for boat safety and inconspicuous historical markers. We will use outside resources for land trusts and scenic easements.
    • Lower Wisconsin State Riverway guidelines and standards as models for visually inconspicuous structures, uniform visual standards, controlled erosion, and a successful form of conservancy.
    • Environmental resource handbooks including information about rare and endangered species vegetation in the Cambrian sandstone ecosystems along the corridor, management strategies for native and invasive species of plants and trees, and habitat for native wildlife. The DNR, county conservation agents, and River Alliance are useful resources.
  • Work with volunteers, landowners and governments to keep ravines and streams in the Dells river corridor watershed free of litter and other contamination which ends up in the Wisconsin River. Encourage boaters, fishermen, swimmers, and hikers to join the "Leave No Trace" movement.
  • Network with existing special interest groups in the Dells area and in the state whose environmental concerns are similar to ours.
  • Promote river safety with local governments, DNR officials, property owners, and users themselves to insure that safe practices and appropriate enforcement protect all recreational users of the river: hikers, swimmers, skiers, fishermen, and boaters from tour boats to jet skis to kayaks.


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 Gathering Waters Conservancy.

The Stewards support the work of the Baraboo Range Preservation Association, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board, the Natural Heritage Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, the Sauk Prarie River Project Association, Limited, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other groups dedicated to preserving the Wisconsin River or the natural heritage of the Dells area.


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