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Great Lakes Article:

Donation boosts Door County nature preserve
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 water.

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.

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