Saturday, June 17, 2017

About Us

History of the Friends of the Kettle Moraine State Forest
(Northern Unit)

The Friends of the Kettle Moraine (FOTKM) began in the mid 1980's, when the DNR’s Bureau of Parks and Recreation, initiated a "Friends Group" program for Wisconsin State Parks and Recreational Forests.  The general goal was to develop a greater appreciation and environmental awareness of Wisconsin’s natural resources and glacial history.  Specific goals were to enlist public involvement in the activities and future direction of the Forest and to provide financial assistance directly to the Kettle Moraine State Forest –Northern Unit for programs and activities. The area is recognized as the best area on the planet to study the effect of glaciers on the landscape.

The first meeting of the FOTKM, held in July 1984 at the Ice Age Center, was hosted by William Moorman of the DNR’s Bureau of Parks and Recreation.  Local press releases resulted in a large turnout of local citizens who were very receptive.  The group elected Gus Christ, Byron Gessner, Jerry Ninnemann, Williamm Stoffel, Irene O'Laughlin, Jerry Schanen, and John Zillmer as board members.

Attorney John Zillmer developed the by-laws and in 1986, the FOTKM obtained tax-exempt status as a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

It is John Zillmer’s father after which the trail that bears his name was made famous.

FOTKM signed a cooperative agreement with the DNR in 1991 receiving the authority to sell books and other items and participate in Forest activities.  As a result, profits from sales and contributions could be donated to the Forest to be used for facilities, programs, and activities. In addition many projects qualify for the Wisconsin stewardship matching grant program which matches FOTKM donations.

Some Friends paid $100 to become charter members.   Those contributions, along with other membership dues, provided startup money to purchase books and other items to sell. Sales started in 1993.

Some of the more significant activities of the Friends include an annual state forest cleanup and candlelight ski / hike as well as funding the Saturday Evening Events presented by the Forest’s naturalist.  The Friends have also funded a number of development efforts in the Forest including prairie plantings, playground equipment, invasive species control, construction of trail shelters and maintenance buildings, natural landscaping, interpretive signage, and the purchase of educational equipment, along with a number of other projects.  In addition, FOTKM members annually provide thousands of volunteer hours to Forest projects and events.

The FOTKM publishes a newsletter to keep members informed about Forest issues, events, and volunteer opportunities.

The founders believed the Kettle Moraine State Forest goals of conservation, education and recreation were important to the community at the time and would become increasingly important as new generations discover and use this great resource.

Our challenge is to maintain their vision and continue to make a difference.

People and organizations that have helped the FOTKM develop over the years include:

James and Sharon Porfilio, Editors of the FOTKM newsletter

Gust Christ, Past president
Jerry Ninnemann, Past president
Mike McFadzen, President & Board member
Bill Millonig, Past president & newsletter artist
Mike Krueger, Past president, Treasurer & Board member
John Cooper, Past Treasurer
Jerry Leiterman, Retired Forest Superintendent
Walt Adams. Retired Forest Superintendent
Jackie Scharfenberg, Forest Naturalist