West Wisconsin Land Trust and Bayfield Regional Conservancy are merging to form one organization, Landmark Conservancy, dedicated to protecting the western and northwestern regions of the state.

Landmark's goal is to lead an expanded conservation effort in the area, according to Executive Director Lindsey Ketchel. Board members and staff from both groups remain active with Landmark.

Conservation projects currently underway include the creation of a 590-acre community forest near Copper Falls State Park and acquiring more than 1,000 acres of floodplain forest, prairie and wetlands in the lower Chippewa River watershed.

The group recently completed a three-year effort on the Bayfield Peninsula to protect 100 acres along the Siskiwit River in Cornucopia.

"Conservation boils down to protecting the good things in life that we all value," Ketchel said. "Clean water, healthy soils, habitat for wildlife, sustainable food sources and the space to enjoy nature's gifts."