Lakes: State sets aside 8 natural areas
protects environmentally sensitive lands
Green Bay Gazette
The rare Hines emerald dragonflies hunting mosquitoes
on the North Bay shoreline of Lake Michigan will be a little
more secure at sunset than they were at sunrise, thanks
to an expansion of the states Natural Areas Program.
state will designate eight new natural areas in
Door and Brown counties in a ceremony at 11 a.m.
today at Ellison Bluff County Park in Door County.
More information about the states Natural
Areas Program is online at www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er.
areas to be protected
are the new natural areas the state will designate
in a ceremony today at Ellison Bluff County Park
in Door County.
Bayshore Blufflands. An ecologically complex
125-acre site with diverse plant communities. A
series of seeps and springs emerge at the base of
the bluffs, which rise 150 to 200 feet above Green
Bay. The cliffs and outcrops support rare land snails,
including the cherrystone drop snail, a state-threatened
species. Owned by Door County Land Trust and The
Ellison Bluff. A densely wooded, tiered rock
terrace provides spectacular views. The cliffs support
a vertical forest of white cedar with Canada yew,
mountain maple, red pine, basswood, and red elderberry.
Rare plants on the 170-acre site include rock whitlow-grass
and broad-leaf sedge. Owned by Door County.
Europe Bay Woods. The site is an undeveloped
isthmus between Lake Michigan and Europe Lake within
Newport State Park. Contains more than one mile
of Great Lakes dune and beach communities, red pine
groves, boreal forest, and northern dry-mesic and
mesic forest. The 200-acre site harbors rare plants
and animals including birds-eye primrose,
dune goldenrod, seaside spurge and the beach-dune
Kangaroo Lake. The lake lies in a basin a
half-mile from the Lake Michigan coast, and contains
a mosaic of communities, including a shallow, marl-bottom
lake, forests and marsh. The lakes source
is the spring-fed Piel Creek, which provides critical
habitat for the federally endangered Hines
emerald dragonfly. The 357-acre site includes lowland
forest of white cedar, black ash, tamarack, black
spruce, and balsam fir and floating sedge mats.
Owned jointly by The Nature Conservancy and Door
County Land Trust.
North Bay. The 225-acre site is one of the
last remaining undeveloped stretches of Lake Michigan
shore on the Door Peninsula. It contains northern
sedge meadow, calcareous fen, northern wet, wet-mesic
and mesic forest, boreal forests of white spruce
and balsam fir, and springs and spring runs. It
also contains coastal marshes and a complex of Lake
Michigan dunes with associated ridge and swale topography.
The federally threatened dwarf lake iris and the
third largest known breeding population of the federally
endangered Hines emerald dragonfly are found
there. Owned by The Nature Conservancy.
Rock Island Woods. A 570-acre mosaic of plant
communities, including a northern hardwood forest,
northern wet-mesic forest, forested seeps and shaded
cliff community all located within Rock Island State
Park. Dolomite cliffs and ledges occur on the margins
of the forest, and some areas support an upland
stand of nearly pure white cedar along the rocky
coastline. Rare species include mystery vertigo,
a land snail, and rock whitlow-grass.
Holland Red Maple Swamp. The 300-acre swamp
is located within the Department of Natural Resources
Holland Wildlife Area in Brown County, and features
a northern hardwood swamp and a northern wet-mesic
forest. The swamp is dominated by red maple, green
ash, and black ash with occasional swamp white oak
and tamarack. White cedar dominates the wet-mesic
forest. Ground plants include small-spike false
nettle, pale touch-me-not, common lady fern, royal
fern and crested wood fern.
White Cliff Fen and Forest. The 57-acre
site features an undisturbed forest of white cedar
and hardwoods surrounding a calcareous fen. Plant
species include Kalms lobelia, marsh fern
and a rare plant common bog-arrow grass.
Rare land snails are known to inhabit nearby bluffs,
and the federally endangered Hines emerald
dragonfly uses the surrounding area. Owned by the
Door County Land Trust.
state designation means permanent protected status,
said Carol Sills, a town of Liberty Grove resident who
is president of the Door County Environmental Council.
The dedication today of more than 2,000 acres in eight
new natural areas in Door and Brown counties increases
the natural area total to 383 statewide, and caps an expansion
in which the program added 50 new areas this year
its 50th year.
State natural areas range in size from a few acres to
thousands of acres and are devoted to scientific research,
teaching and preservation of special environments and
the genetic diversity they hold.
Wisconsins Natural Areas Program was the first of
its kind in the nation and now protects more than 147,000
acres of environmentally sensitive land all containing
remnants of the plant and animal communities that covered
Wisconsin before European settlement.
The state owns some natural areas, but cooperative arrangements
with private groups are key to the program, said Dawn
Hinebaugh, Department of Natural Resources conservation
biologist with the program
a lot of partners the DNR works with, Hinebaugh
said. Whats really becoming important are
the land trusts, and thats not only in Door County,
but across the state.
Three properties added to the natural areas list today
are owned, in whole or in part, by the Door County Land
is really a neat concept the state reaching out
over the last 10 years and partnering with nonprofit local
groups, said Dan Burke, who directs the trust.
The 1,400-member trust was founded in 1986 and protects
around 2,000 acres in about 60 properties in Door County.
split between lands we own and lands we hold conservation
easement agreements on, Burke said.
All but a few natural areas are open to the public, Hinebaugh
said. Only areas with rare species subject to poachers
or those too fragile and small to suffer human contact
are closed to the public.
But that doesnt mean natural areas are good places
for a family picnic. They lack the amenities of state
parks and tend to be good places for birdwatchers and
amateur naturalists, but poor places for those seeking
the recreational opportunities associated with parks.
really for the more venturesome because, typically, there
arent well defined and marked trails, Burke