Door County Land Trust (DCLT) wrapped up 2023 in a big way, announcing the future opening of its 15th nature preserve for the public in mid-December and then the completion of three additional land conservation projects just before Christmas.
One week after announcing the future development of the 75-acre Bear Creek nature preserve in the Town of Clay Banks, DCLT announced deals to permanently protect 236 additional acres.
DCLT now protects more than 9,400 acres across Door County and its surrounding islands.
The three projects include an addition of 77 acres of wetland and cedar forest to the Hibbard Creek Natural Area to the west of Kangaroo Lake; the creation of the new, 118-acre Oak Bluff Natural Area in the Town of Brussels west of Brussels; and a new conservation easement in northern Door County.
“Community support for these conservation projects that span from north to south has been key to increasing the pace of land protection efforts,” said DCLT Executive Director Emily Wood. “As stewards of the land, it is our duty to safeguard the delicate balance of nature. Preserving these habitats is not just a win for wildlife; it is an investment in the future, ensuring that generations to come can witness the beauty and biodiversity that thrives when a place is protected forever.”
The Hibbard Creek expansion permanently preserves a corridor that permits the movement of wildlife across the peninsula. The watershed contains feeder streams, bordering wetlands, and woodlands that follow the creek and filter surface water on its way into Lake Michigan.
At this time, there are no plans to develop trails at Hibbard Creek Natural Area.
DCLT plans a short loop trail to a bluff overlook, but otherwise envisions a quiet nature area for the Oak Bluff property west of Brussels. The site includes a mature red and white oak forest and 1,700 feet of undeveloped bluff that provides migratory bird habitat.
At both the Bear Creek site near Lake Michigan and the Oak Bluff site on the west, DCLT will replant grasslands and pollinator-friendly perennials. Grassland birds – such as a species of concern that has been sighted in southern Door County – already are frequenting the former dairy farmland and pasture at Bear Creek, making it ideal for grassland restoration.
The Bear Creek site a little more than a mile away from Lake Michigan has 50-foot-tall hills that were once lake shoreline, and the site should provide hunting, seasonal trout fishing opportunities and a cleaning filter for surface water, ensuring the health of the watershed, said Land Program Director Jesse Koyen.
“Bear Creek is of great water quality and extends these benefits into Lake Michigan,” he said. “With the changing landscape and climate, waterways such as these are vital to an area’s water quality overall.”
Finally, DCLT said a new conservation easement along County Road A, between Fish Creek and Ephraim, now protects 40 acres on a forested parcel belonging to Doris Thompson. The property bridges wildlife habitats between Peninsula State Park and the Gibraltar Ephraim Swamp Natural Area.
Learn more at www.doorcountylandtrust.org/landchallenge.