The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor has been awarded federal funds to implement a dwarf lake iris restoration project through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program.
The grant advances efforts to expand the plant’s numbers, which have been decreasing at the sanctuary during the past several decades due to forest encroachment, loss of dune habitat and climate change.
“Dwarf lake iris is relatively common on the Door peninsula; however, its habitat has been greatly reduced by a number of environmental threats,” according to Sam Hoffman, The Ridges’ land manager. “By protecting its rare habitat, our hope is to increase the population of this threatened species and maximize genetic diversity over time.”
Dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris) is a small, rare iris species of the Upper Great Lakes region, where it grows primarily along the edges of shoreline forest and dune habitats, often near other rare coastal species.
Coupled with tree removal required for maintenance of the Baileys Harbor Range Lights, The Ridges aims to study current dwarf lake iris populations, expand the existing population and transplant specimens to other areas of the sanctuary that have suitable habitat. Manipulating the forest conditions, including tree removal and canopy thinning, will be based on collected data to mimic the disturbance that promotes ideal conditions for dwarf lake iris and other rare plants, with the intended outcome of increased light availability.
Through outreach and informational signage, this project will also educate the public about ongoing research and management of this species.