Donation boosts Door County nature
Man gives beachfront land to sanctuary
By Paul Brinkmann
Green Bay Press-Gazette
BAILEYS HARBOR - The Ridges Sanctuary, a popular Door
County nature preserve, has acquired its first shoreline
property, thanks to a donation from a private citizen.
The property includes 100 feet of harbor shoreline in
two residential lots stretching from Ridges Road to the
The donation is significant because it will allow the
sanctuary to better explain how the waters of Lake Michigan
formed the area’s unique sand dunes known as "ridge
and swale" topography. Until now, the sanctuary’s
hikes and tours have been limited to upland areas and
the nearby Baileys Harbor Ridges County Park, while signs
and literature explained the dune development.
The property "represents a timeline of growth from
the beach to the woods, a continuum of the ridge-swale
development," said Paul Regnier, executive director
of the sanctuary.
Seasonal Door County resident Phil Maloney donated the
lots. He and brother William Maloney bought 225 feet of
shoreline in 1978, built a home and preserved the remainder.
Since that time, Maloney said he received many lucrative
offers to sell the property, but was determined to protect
the land from development. He has followed with interest
The Ridges dedication and work on maintaining its unique
biodiversity of plant and wildlife, and chose to donate
the land to the sanctuary.
"The money item was not for me," he said. "I
love the land."
The Ridges Sanctuary is a 1,200-acre nature preserve
along the eastern edge of Door County in Baileys Harbor.
According to the sanctuary’s literature, the sandy ridges
began forming more than 1,000 years ago, when Lake Michigan
extended about a mile further inland than it does today.
Water covered much of the current preserve.
About 30 crescent-shaped ridges of sand and soil have
formed parallel to the Baileys Harbor shoreline. Similar
dune formations are very rare around the Great Lakes,
including the "Canal Property" near the Sturgeon
Bay-Lake Michigan Canal.
Each ridge takes up to 40 years to form. Ridges closest
to the shore are the youngest in terms of plant communities;
older species of plants are found on each succeeding ridge
to the north, creating a living example of the concept
of succession in plant communities.