Dick Paddock looked outside the window of his Alexian Village apartment in 2000 and worried that the natural beauty of Mequon was disappearing. Couldn’t something be done to preserve the land’s flora and fauna?
Paddock, former chairman of Time Insurance Co., set about finding an answer. Through a $500,000 gift to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Paddock took the first steps toward turning his dream into a reality for generations to come.
His gift helped purchase the first parcel of land for the Mequon Nature Preserve, which is framed by Swan Road on the west, Wauwatosa Road on the east, Donges Bay Road on the north and County Line Road on the south.
In partnership with the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and the city of Mequon, the Foundation is working to acquire 640 total acres – or one square mile – and restore the land to the condition it was in the 1830s as a beech maple forest and wetlands.
More than $8 million in public and private donations has been raised and 438 acres have been acquired. The Wisconsin Waterfowl Association has removed miles of drain tile, converting the area into wetlands. Red tail hawks and great blue herons are frequent visitors and so are area children and adults alike. The 12,000-square-foot PieperPower Education Center serves as the environmental hub for local schools and other groups. A 5-mile-long trail system gives visitors a chance to take in the beauty of the area year round.
Though Paddock died in 2005, his legacy will live on in the beauty of the preserve.
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