Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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The Service's National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant program is helping to recover the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly on multiple wetlands and lakes in Door County, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Ken Mierzwa.

The Service's National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant program is helping to recover the endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly on multiple wetlands and lakes in Door County, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Ken Mierzwa.

Safeguarding the Landscape in Door County through
the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program

In the center of the upper Midwest inland seas, sits Door County Wisconsin. Surrounded by water, the county’s 300 miles of shoreline comprise nearly 20% of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Door County is an extremely biodiverse area serving home to several endangered species, a major bird migration route and critical wildlife habitat. This geographic area contains open active sand dunes, ridge and swale topography, embayment lakes and wetlands and large tracts of mixed conifer-hardwood forests. The State of Wisconsin has identified Door County as a conservation priority.

Federal funds garnered through 16 National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants (NCWCG) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) helped to fund acquisition and protection of over 10,000 acres of habitat for birds, insects and other wildlife. There are more NCWCG awards in Door County than any other location on the Great Lakes.

Project selection for these grants are done through an annual gathering of Service staff who review, score and rank the current year’s applicants. The Midwest Region Coastal and Wildlife Sport Fish and Restoration programs hosted the 2016 review meeting in DePere, Wisconsin, a suburb of Green Bay. Conducting the meeting near Door County, offered the opportunity for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and its partners to highlight previously awarded projects to Service staff who formed the technical ranking team.

Among the 16 projects in Door County previously selected for NCWCG funding, is a 2008 award which partially funded the purchase of 40 acres at the Kellner Fen Preserve. Designated as critical habitat, the Kellner Fen Preserve is an undisturbed sanctuary of floating sedge mats providing host for rare plants, migrating birds and animals, including the endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana). This dragonfly depends on groundwater-fed wetlands that perch over limestone bedrock, called a calcareous fen. The fen provides pristine water for the dragonfly to breed. Immature dragonflies, called nymphs, live in the water for 2 to 4 years before emerging as a flying adult.

Six other Wisconsin State Natural Areas (SNA) in Door County have benefited from recent NCWCG awards. They include:

  • Big and Little Marsh SNA
  • Coffey Swamp SNA
  • Little Lake SNA
  • Mud Lake SNA
  • North Bay SNA
  • The Ridges Sanctuary SNA

Three recent grants provided federal funds which resulted in the acquisition of 1,409 acres, 318 acres more than anticipated. Accomplishments of this magnitude are due to the multiple partners involved: the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Door County Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and The Ridges Sanctuary. This partnership leveraged the $2.9 million in NCWCG monies with an additional $3.5 million resulting in a $6.5 million conservation investment. The partnership and funding has helped to safeguard the Door County landscape for future generations.

Annually the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program delivers conservation dollars to help coastal states and U.S. territories protect and restore coastal habitats. Funding is provided through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.

By Mara Koenig
Regional Office - External Affairs

Last updated: January 6, 2016