One of the largest tracts of undeveloped land on Washington Island, the Richter Community Forest Nature Preserve features a diverse mix of northern hardwoods, numerous tip-up mounds (uprooted trees), bedrock ridges, and an abundance of spring wildflowers. The forest varies greatly in composition reflecting the different types of forest management activities that have taken place over the past 100 years. The preserve's large tip-up mounds are clues that this area, unlike most of Door County's interior, was never clear-cut and tilled for agricultural use. Another clue is the presence of numerous wildflowers. If land is tilled, wildflower seed banks are disturbed. Even as a forest begins to regenerate, it can take a century or more for wildflowers to re-establish themselves.
The small outcrops of bedrock ridges and beach stone along the forest floor are reminders that thousands of years ago this preserve was under water. Postglacial Lake Nipissing (now Lake Michigan) had water levels much higher than they are today. As lake levels dropped over the past 3,000-5,000 years, old shorelines remained.
The Richter Community Forest Nature Preserve was a gift to the Washington Island and Door County communities in 2001. In its preserved state, it will remain a place of beauty for islanders and visitors alike and an educational resource for the island’s school children.
Help us continue to protect Door County’s special places. Door County Land Trust nature preserves were established to protect fragile ecological resources and provide habitat for plants and wildlife. You can help maintain the health of the forest, meadows, and wetlands by respecting the nature preserves in the following ways:
Stay on the trails. Hiking off-trail disturbs vegetation and wildlife, and increases your chances of encountering poison-ivy, other natural hazards, or trespassing outside of preserve boundaries.
Clean your boots or shoes. You can reduce the spread of invasive plants by brushing your boots or shoes where a boot brush station is provided.
Pets are welcome. Please keep your pets on a leash at all times and pick up after your pets.
Collecting is not allowed. Collecting of any vegetation, wildlife, or other material is not allowed.
Leave no trace. Please carry out everything that you carry in, including garbage.
Some activities are not allowed. Horseback riding, ATVs, bicycles, snowmobiles and other motorized recreational equipment is not allowed on the preserves.
Wear brightly colored clothing during hunting seasons. Hunting, trapping, and fishing may be allowed at some Door County Land Trust nature preserves. For more detailed information about hunting on Door County Land Trust preserves, please visit our Hunting Program page.