The Copper Kettle Ranch owned by Duane Clark for nearly five decades, has given Walworth County an option to purchase his 190 acres ranch to for the purpose of becoming a natural resource park.
The property has one hundred eleven acres tillable with soil of numerous types. The farm was in the soil bank for about two decades. During this period the farm was heavily involved in conservation projects. The farm was active with wood duck houses and eventually blue bird runs with fifty houses on the soil bank land . Regular reports were made to state and federal agencies. In just one hatching, eighty were recorded, and they had more than one nesting. When the farm was placed back in farming, new homes were found for the bird houses. At that time, they were both removed from the endangered list. The tillable land is now rented to a neighbor for farming. Although the farm is located in highly a popular second homes area, it has been kept in tack and is presently the 2nd largest tax key property in Lyons Township.
A mile and a half of White river runs through the property and its drop of about 12 feet is used by local residents as kayak and canoe run with access on Sheridan Springs Road, in the future access will be from the proposed park. On the north side of the river is 110 acres of beautiful rolling farm land and on the south side is an old growth hardwood forest.The woods were studied by Randy Cooper of Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources and forester for our area. He admired the umbrella in the forest and was amazed at the size of some trees especially the European Alders.To the east of the forest are wetlands used sandhill cranes as nesting area.
In the valley which the river runs through is a pond once used as a quarry that is a miniature version of Walden Pond. Next to the pond are two magnificent oaks, known as the” loving oaks,” for the way their branches intertwine and the two grow together as one.
The property has miles of trails that run through the forest and next to the pond and river.
The acquisition of the land for a natural resource park is far from a done deal, for half the purchase price of 1.91 million is to come from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant program and the other half from the County. According to County Chair Nancy Russell “There are a number of county board supervisors who, because of the economy, are not in favor of the acquisition; however, they have agreed to the option and a public information meeting to gauge the support of county taxpayers.”
The meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 18th, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Government Center (Elkhorn Square). There will be information, videos, etc. along with comment cards. A majority of the county board will be there to listen.