Cimeley Woods Preserve, a 12.5-acre parcel of woodland near Lake Como, was donated to the Geneva Lake Conservancy in 2021. The property was donated by Cheryl Gibisch and her brother Robert Johnson, whose family owned the property for almost 80 years and had left it almost entirely untouched. It is named Cimeley Woods Preserve after their grandparents Walter and Myrtle Cimeley.
The preserve is a mixed hardwood forest, home to forest interior birds, deer, wild turkeys, and other mammals. This property contributes to the Conservancy’s mission to protect and restore the lands and waterways of Walworth County and beyond.
“The protected forest will provide habitat for a variety of wildlife and filter carbon from the atmosphere to slow climate change,” said Karen Yancey, GLC Executive Director. “We are deeply grateful to the donors because if this property had been sold for development it would have created substantial soil erosion that would have been detrimental to Lake Como as well as degraded an important wildlife habitat.”
The property is located near the GLC’s Hermansen Woods preserve, a 15-acre property that was donated to the Conservancy in 2000 by Allen Hermansen. The Conservancy hopes neighboring property owners will protect the forests on their property, creating a wildlife corridor between Cimeley Woods Preserve and Hermansen Woods.
The lack of disturbance to the soil also means that Cimeley Woods Preserve is an especially important woodland. Very few invasive species are visible in the forest, allowing the mature oaks and silver maples to grow without competition. When a native tree thrives in this way, it enhances the biodiversity and environmental quality of an area.
“Our ability to protect the ecosystem of one area increases with every additional landowner who is willing to protect their property and restore it to ecological health,” said Yancey. “We have several land protection tools available, including land donations, conservation easements and having land certified as a Conservation@Home property.”
The property, a wildlife preserve, remains closed to hikers, with public access only by guided tour. To learn more about opportunities to tour the preserve, visit the Conservancy’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.