MADISON – Governor Doyle announced today $4.1 million that will be used for land purchases in Door County that will increase protection of plant and animal species that are endangered, threatened, and of special-concern; preserve unique Lake Michigan coastal wetlands habitat; and provide additional opportunities for public recreation.
“Caring for our lakes and lakeshores is an important part of maintaining our quality of life in Wisconsin, and I am pleased that these funds will help so many valuable projects that are working to preserve our heritage,” Governor Doyle said. “The Stewardship Fund is one more tool we have at our disposal that will help us to leverage federal and partner funds to help us protect our state’s coastal wetland system from residential development.”
Door County is one of Wisconsin’s most biologically diverse counties with 28 State Natural Areas, and the highest number of rare species occurrences of any county in Wisconsin. The county is also an important stopover point for diminishing populations of migratory birds and is home to the federally-threatened dwarf lake iris and Pitcher’s thistle, which are found only on the Great Lakes.
A combination of state and federal funds will be used for land purchases. Wisconsin will receive two grants of $1 million each from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Wisconsin will match the federal grants with $2.1 million from the Stewardship Fund. An additional $165,000 will come from partner contributions, donations, or in-kind services from the Door County Land Trust, the Art and Nature Center on Washington Island, the Door County Invasive Species Team, the Door Island Bird Monitoring Project, the Sturgeon Bay High School Ecology Club, South Lake Michigan Drive Property Owners Association and Lake Forest Park Corporation and The Nature Conservancy.
The Department of Natural Resources and the Door County Land Trust will partner in negotiations with willing sellers.
Following is a description of projects slated to receive the funding:
Washington and Detroit Island Coastal Wetlands Project – The Washington and Detroit Islands project consists of four State Natural Areas (Detroit Harbor, Big and Little Marsh, Coffey Swamp, Little Lake) currently totaling 589 acres. The project will receive $1,135,000 from the Stewardship Fund and a $1 million federal grant, a land donation worth $10,000 from the Door County Land Trust (DCLT), a cash donation of $135,000 from the DCLT, in-kind donations of $3,500 from the Art and Nature Center on Washington Island, Door County Invasive Species Team and the Door Island Bird Monitoring Project.
The grants will add protection to an additional 195 acres and about 6,500 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline. These projects provide critical habitat for 32 rare plants including the federally threatened dwarf lake iris and eight state–endangered or threatened species. Twenty-eight state-endangered, threatened and special concern species of birds are known to nest on Washington and Detroit Islands. The habitat also provides important migration, feeding and nesting spots for migrating birds and bald eagles. The Detroit Harbor area has recently been identified as the most productive small mouth bass nursery in northern Green Bay. Habitat will also be protected for the federally-endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly.
Lake Michigan Ridge & Swale Coastal Wetlands Project – This project will add up to 440 acres to the Kellner Fen and Sturgeon Bay Canal units of the Cave Point to Clay Banks State Natural Area SNA that currently protects 670 acres. These funds will help provide habitat for four federally listed endangered or threatened species and for 21 plants, 4 birds, and 1 fish on the state endangered, threatened or special concern list.
The project will receive $1 million from the Stewardship Fund and a $1 million federal grant. It also has a commitment by the Door County Land Trust (DCLT) to raise $15,000 in private cash funds toward acquisition. The Sturgeon Bay High School Ecology club, the South Lake Michigan Drive Property Owners Association and Lake Forest Park Corporation are committing in-kind services worth $2,376. All land will be purchased by the Door County Land Trust and legally dedicated to the state as part of the State Natural Area.