The area contains many ridge lines, historical
shorelines from the lake's water receding since
prehistoric time. The many ridges and swales
tell different stories between the plants and
animal life. The area is a prime bird watching
stop, but the rare fauna, sedges, lilies and
wildflowers draw many visitors to the
sanctuary. About a dozen endangered or
threatened Wisconsin plant species are found in
the sanctuary as well as the Federally
threatened Dwarf Lake Iris. The Hines Emerald
dragonfly, the only dragonfly on the Federal
Endangered Species List, is also found at the
Ridges. The land was purchased by Door County
from the United States government in 1937.
During that same year, the nonprofit Ridges
Sanctuary formed to protect and maintain the
area. The Ridges Sanctuary leases and
maintains most of the acreage including two
range lighthouses; alignment lights used by
ships to enter Bailey's Harbor. Originally lit
with lanterns, the beacons are now electric.
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