Another Bird Has Flown
Our friend Kerry Wiltzius passed away last week. Kerry was best known to the Conservancy for her dedication to protecting wildlife habitat and farmland, and to connecting people to nature---and to the Conservancy. In 2007, Kerry and the Wiltzius family dedicated 100 acres of the family land on the rolling Peone Prairie to migratory birds and other abundant wildlife. Their conservation agreement with Inland Northwest Land Conservancy safeguards a full mile of Deadman Creek corridor, upstream from Bruce Road and the Peone Cemetery. The Wiltzius family lands are a wildlife corridor between Mount Spokane and the Little Spokane River. The county’s Feryn Conservation Area adjoins their land and creates a huge haven for wild creatures amid the sea of farmland and growing suburban sprawl.
Pictured: Kerry and her husband Mike participate in a visit to an adjacent property to their conserved land in the Peone Prairie.
Through the course of her career, Kerry worked at the Spokane Humane Society, Northeast Community Center, MS Society, Southside Senior Center, Manito Park and other local nonprofits. She also volunteered with the Girl Scouts, Kairos Prison Ministry, Executive Women International's chapter in Spokane and Job's Daughters, a worldwide organization supporting young women. Her love of the outdoors led her to triathlons and a particular love for cycling. Her love of the land and desire to protect it spoke to her deep connection with her community.
Every year Chris DeForest, our conservation director, saves his annual checkup on the Wiltzius property for late fall, to be there when the fall migrations of birds noisily throng the Wiltzius land on their way south. Beforehand he would meet with Kerry and Mike Wiltzius to learn about plans for the land, what new creatures had appeared, and to learn ways to engage with neighbors and other farmers about conserving their own land.
INLC executive director Dave Schaub met a number of times with Kerry. She urged him to redouble our efforts to protect the best of the Peone Prairie and the Peone Creek corridor. Dave says “with Kerry’s passing, we have lost a great conservation advocate.” Kerry uplifted others with her positive outlook and energy. Our deepest condolences go out to Kerry's family and friends during this difficult time.