Granddaughters of the late Harry Nevins are continuing the family’s conservation legacy
The new Door County Land Trust (DCLT) leader did not negotiate for the latest property acquisition, but she most certainly applauded it.
This summer, DCLT received ownership of 9.27 acres of unspoiled Green Bay shoreline, wetland and forest to add to the more than 8,800 acres of land that it’s already protecting countywide. On her first visit, new DCLT director Emily Wood liked what she saw.
Never developed, the rectangle of land just south of the former Mariner Resort property – which the Nevins family operated for almost 50 years, starting in the early 1960s – stretches from Highway G to the rocky Green Bay shore just south of the village of Egg Harbor.
Wood, a former executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, said DCLT has no plans or reasons at this time to develop trails or parking on the nine-acre property and has a long list of reasons to preserve and protect the property in perpetuity.
“It’s not one that has a high recreational value, but it has an extremely high ecological value,” Wood said. “When we look at properties, we look at a number of different values, and ecological value is one that’s important for us to maintain.”
Jesse Koyen, DCLT’s stewardship director, emphasized the importance of protecting the entire property and noted that it would be tricky and expensive to create public access all the way to the shoreline because of the large wetland that spans the center of most of the site.
DCLT can now ensure the protection of 385 feet of shoreline along a stretch of Green Bay shore that has seen a recent upswing in cottage teardowns and large-home and dock construction. The land donation will help prevent development that disrupts habitats and speeds up runoff.
The organization also can ensure protection of mature woodland, as well as an ecologically priceless wetland and ancient dune that provide wildlife habitat and filter surface water before it seeps into the lake.
After a few minutes of meandering along game trails, changing course and ducking through a muddy cedar thicket, Wood waded through tall, native sedge, tiptoed around the remaining upright leaves of irises and passed beneath an old deer stand with a wooden ladder. Before her was the two-acre wetland.
She recognized the call of an American toad breaking the silence and predicted that in the early spring, the tree-rimmed wetland would be teeming with insects and echoing with the singing, calling migratory birds that feed upon them.
Unlike some wetlands or shallow ponds, this one does not provide panoramic views worthy of postcard photos. Instead, brush, grasses and trees grow thick in the mucky soils and shallow sections of the low-lying swamp. Wood looked around and noticed a lot of small willows, some native dogwood and ash in the moist areas, and aspen, cedar and other tall trees ringing the wetland.
“These types of wetlands, because they’re so dense, are great for water birds to come in and raise their young,” she said. “There’s a lot of cover for protection from predators and raptors. This is really important, critical migratory bird habitat, especially on the flyway we’re on. During migration, it’s probably full of songbirds.
“One of the things we try to do at the Land Trust is to protect corridors that connect landscapes that have a high ecological value for wildlife and for migratory birds,” Wood added.
DCLT’s senior land protection manager, Terrie Cooper, noted in an upcoming Land Trust newsletter the site’s rarity for providing habitat not only for birds, but also for amphibians.
Granddaughters of Late Harry Nevins Continue Conservation Legacy
DCLT’s new communications coordinator, Kay McKinley, wrote a feature story for the organization’s Landings newsletter this month detailing how the granddaughters of the late Harry Nevins fulfilled his wish to keep the property completely unspoiled. McKinley’s article notes that the family’s “legacy of conservation” may continue forever because of the donation of the property that served as a childhood wonderland for sisters Susi, Nancy and Lori Nevins.
McKinley also reported that the land donation continues a preservation tradition started by the property’s original owner, Ferdinand Hotz, a jeweler and artist who bought and protected thousands of acres of land in the county, including half of what became Newport State Park.
Wood said her Indiana Wildlife Federation work allowed her to work with land-trust organizations on many occasions in Indiana and Great Lakes states, and she’s glad to have the opportunity to help protect ecologically sensitive sites and critical habitat here. She said she’s fascinated that Door County has so many different types of land and so many microhabitats, and there are more places that need protection than public entities such as the state and county can acquire and maintain.
“When we care for wildlife, we care for ourselves and our communities and our watersheds,” Wood said.