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Grand View Preserved Forever

The iconic Grand View vista will take center stage at a dedication ceremony on June 23 at 4 pm as part of Olde Ellison Bay Days. Photo by Len Villano.

The view from the top of the hill on Highway 42 near Ellison Bay is a popular Door County sight, one that has long been private – until now.

After over three years of fundraising, grant writing and negotiating the Door County Land Trust purchased 16 acres of the Grand View property. It will be managed and maintained by the town of Liberty Grove with financial support from the Land Trust.

“It is Ellison Bay, that view coming down the hill,” said Carol Newman, owner of the Pioneer Store and resident of Ellison Bay for 56 years. “It’s so wonderful it’s being preserved.”

Grand View Forever is this year’s theme for Olde Ellison Bay Days, and the property will be dedicated as a public park and scenic overlook at a ceremony on Saturday, June 23 at 4 pm as part of the festivities. Local writer Norbert Blei, Jan and Frank Forkert and Land Trust officials will speak at the ceremony, which is open to the public.

The property’s view – from which one can see Washington Island, two county parks and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – isn’t the only part of Grand View that needs protecting. The property extends toward the water on the Niagara Escarpment, a rock formation that runs from Door County through the southern border of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the Niagara Falls region of Canada.

“It looks like they’ve got some good quality wood and some wooded wetland areas,” said Eric Fowle, founding co-chair of the Niagara Escarpment Resource Network. “It offers a variety of habitat and space to other species that may be unique to the area.”

Fowle said parts of the Grand View site had been developed and farmed in the past, which limits the area’s current biodiversity. But he has seen unique species of orchids while walking through the property, and said any preservation of the Niagara Escarpment is important.

Plans for the Grand View property include restoration of the ponds and wetland areas, as well as hiking trails and preservation of the iconic view.

The Land Trust plans to rehabilitate that unique environment. There are two ponds on the property, which Terrie Cooper, land program director for the Land Trust, said will be re-planted with native wetland grass.

“Our commitment is to do a wildlife habitat restoration down below by the ponds, then up above to maintain the park as a scenic overlook,” Cooper said.

The Land Trust received grants from the DNR and the National Highway Department’s scenic byways program to preserve the iconic vista and the ecology of the Niagara Escarpment.

Those funds, as well as money received from private donations, helped to purchase the Grand View property, which was owned privately and once slated for potential development.

“This is one of Door County’s most known, celebrated views, but it’s always been private,” Cooper said.

But Cooper said the previous owners of the property wanted to work with the Land Trust to maintain the view.

“They always made the community feel like it was their hill, their view,” Cooper said. “That’s why it was so easy raising money. People are in love with this.”

Continued funding is needed for future acquisitions and maintenance of Grand View. For more information call 920.746.1359 or visit http://www.doorcountylandtrust.org.