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.


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.

At their October 25, 2018 meeting, the Stewards reviewed the timeline of activities and meetings since April 2016 around having the fence at Upham Woods removed and decided to begin circulating a petition to be submitted to the UW Board of Regents in March 2019. We invite you to sign the petition online or download and print a copy to circulate. Because the Dells of the Wisconsin River is an international destination for tourists and paddlers, signatures do not need to be Wisconsin residents. Please submit signatures by February 28, 2019 in order for us to have them compiled for the March 7 Board of Regents meeting.

We also invite you to write emails or letters to your state legislators and the governor Tell stories about your love of the Dells river corridor and the need for the University of Wisconsin to restore safe public access at Upham Woods.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Help Save River Access
at Upham Woods

Upham Woods fence blocking public access to the Upper Dells just north of their main entrance on Juneau County Rd. N aka Stand Rock Road.

Restore Public Access to Upper Dells


to Restore Public Access to the Upper Dells of the Wisconsin River

We the undersigned hereby petition the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to:

Authorize removal of the fence and restore safe public access to the Wisconsin River on Hwy N, aka Stand Rock Road just north of the Upham Woods entrance in Juneau County. The fence was installed by Upham Woods in 2016 restricting public accessibility to the Upper Dells of the Wisconsin River. For elders and those with disabilities, as well as the general public, it has been the historic accessible place to put in canoes and kayaks since the flowage was created by the Kilbourn Dam in 1909.

We prevail upon you to uphold the mandate of The Wisconsin Idea and the University's commitment to public service and outreach through UW Extension to remove the fence and restore access to the river.

Pursuant to Wisconsin Constitution Article 1: Equality, Inherent Rights; Section 4: Right to Assemble and Petition.

**your signature**

Thank you so much for your consideration and participation! With your help we can make this happen!
580 signatures

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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.


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