Door County shoreline parcel to remain public
Natural Resources Board votes to attach 16 acres to
state nature preserve
By MEG JONES
Milwuakee Journal Sentinel staff
Aug. 17, 2002
Manitowoc - A valuable undeveloped strip of Lake
Michigan shoreline in Door County will remain in the public's
hands, the state Natural Resources Board decided Wednesday.
The 16 acres known as the Spikehorn Campground property
has been involved in a tug of war between local property
owners, Door County, conservationists and the Department
of Natural Resources over whether it should be sold to
a private landowner or remain public property.
After listening to comments from several people, the
board voted unanimously to hang onto the property and
add it to the adjacent Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and
Wetlands State Natural Area.
The board not only decided to retain the parcel near
the Cana Island Lighthouse, but it also placed strict
restrictions on the property that would bar development,
including parking lots or public beaches.
The lighthouse attracts thousands of visitors every year,
and landowners in the area and others were worried that
the added attraction of Lake Michigan beachfront to the
natural area would worsen traffic congestion on the road
leading to the lighthouse, which has no parking lot.
Carolyn Van Miller, a member of the Cana Island Property
Owners Association, said access to the property should
be restricted because the fragile ecosystem could be harmed
by public use.
"Public ownership alone will not save Spikehorn," Van
However, Door County Board Chairman Charlie Most said
the public should have access to the property.
"I'm kind of disturbed when a property owners association
is given so much weight," he said.
Most added that state dollars were used to buy the land.
"That's public money. There should be limited passage
to the property," he said.
The beachfront was part of the privately owned Spikehorn
Campground, whose owners sold more than 90 acres to the
state in 1998 for $1.1 million. Most of the land became
part of the Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands
State Natural Area - a site created by the DNR in the
mid-1990s because of its abundance of rare plant and animal
The area supports one of the few known nesting sites
of the common goldeneye, a migratory bird. The coastal
waters also are used by a host of other ducks, and the
inland forest includes large stands of white cedar, white
spruce and balsam fir.