BY BETSY GALBRAITH, GREEN BAY FWCO
A recent purchase by The Nature Conservancy will protect nearly 400 acres of coastal boreal forest in Door County, Wisconsin. The acquisition, funded in part by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, is in an area surrounded by the Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands State Natural Area. Once the land is designated as a state natural area, it will almost double the size of this unique and diverse natural area. The acquisition also improves public access to the state natural area by connecting once-isolated parcels of land.
This parcel of land and the state natural area are within the Door Peninsula Coastal Wetlands Ramsar site, a globally important wetland. Influenced by its location on Lake Michigan and the resulting local climate, Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands is a landscape where northern plants, animals and forests can thrive far south of where they are normally found.
“Door County is a destination for people from near and far who love its woods and waters as well as a haven for rare plants and animals that need these habitats to thrive,” said Mary Jean Huston, who directs The Nature Conservancy’s work in Wisconsin. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to protect this special place and share it with everyone who loves to spend time outdoors in our beautiful state.”
Protection of the property will help promote the recovery of federally threatened species like the dwarf lake iris and northern long-eared bat. It will also protect groundwater replenishment areas in nearby wetlands known to support the federally-endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly.
"This acquisition helps imperiled species, conserves unique habitat and offers a variety of recreation opportunities, from bird watching to hunting and hiking," states Charlie Wooley, Deputy Regional Director for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Midwest Region. “We are happy to partner with The Nature Conservancy to protect these important lands for all to enjoy.”
“Many birds depend on this area during the breeding season and as a stopover site where they can rest and feed during migration,” said Mike Grimm, The Nature Conservancy conservation ecologist based in Sturgeon Bay. “Birds like the red-shouldered hawk, wood thrush and Blackburnian warbler need large expanses of habitat, and the addition of this parcel to the surrounding lands already designated as a State Natural Area will allow these birds and mammals with similar requirements to inhabit this part of Door County into the future.”
The area will be open to the public for walking, wildlife and bird watching, hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The land will also be open for hunting and trapping in accordance with state laws. Conservancy staff are preparing the property for visitation, and it will be open starting Memorial Day weekend in May 2018.
Funding for this acquisition was provided by a grant from the Service through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a grant from Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and donations from The Nature Conservancy supporters.