Gibraltar Electors to Vote on Chambers Island Land Trust Expansion

On Aug. 2, electors of the Town of Gibraltar will decide whether the town will acquire two islands in the middle of Mackaysee Lake on Chambers Island that will be transferred to the Door County Land Trust (DCLT). The purchase will come at no expense to the taxpayers of Gibraltar, but bureaucracy requires electors be involved in the purchase.

The islands are currently owned by the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), a state agency set up in 1848 to manage state lands granted by the federal government when Wisconsin was founded. Funds from those land sales help fund public schools and the University of Wisconsin system.

The two islands on Mackaysee Lake are valued at a total of $21,000 and the BCPL is looking to sell them, but can only sell them directly to another unit of government.

State statute requires town electors to approve land purchases. Even though the funds will come from the DCLT and Gibraltar town taxpayers will not owe any money, Gibraltar electors must still approve the purchase.

If the purchase goes through, it will add to the 487 acres of land within the DCLT’s Chambers Island Nature Preserve, the largest in the land trust’s system.

The vote comes on the heels of an additional land trust acquisition of 113 acres on Chambers Island and a $150,000 grant from the David V. Uihlein Sr. Foundation for future purchases on the island.

“By the end of the summer we hope to have 600 acres [on Chambers Island],” said Tom Clay, executive director of the DCLT. “Our goal is to increase the protected landscape of the interior of the island community.”

The Chambers Island Nature Preserve already protects a rare leather-leaf muskeg bog, the only one found in Door County. The island also serves as a significant migratory stopover for birds.

“It‘s a unique habitat and it’s a great place for research,” said Clay.

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