When it comes to matters of Mother Earth, no local organization takes the truism “respect your mother” closer to heart than the Door County Land Trust.
Since 1986, the DCLT has worked tirelessly to achieve its mission “to preserve, maintain, and enhance lands that contribute significantly to the scenic beauty, open space, and ecological integrity of Door County.” The organization focuses on purchasing land for preservation, facilitating land donations, and establishing partnerships with landowners to help preserve their properties’ environmental integrity.
As we gear up for Earth Day on April 22 this year, we’re showing our appreciation for the DCLT and its ongoing conservation, sustainability, and advocacy efforts—as well as our other nature preserves and conservation groups—by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the Land Trust and its 14 public nature preserves.
Q: What is a nature preserve, exactly?
A: A nature preserve is a plot of land on which wildlife and plantlife naturally live and thrive and is therefore worthy of protection from environmental degradation and commercial development.
More poetically, preserves are things of absolute beauty and natural wonder, places where humans can still witness nature and its endless fascinations in their purest and most unadulterated forms. Nature preserves are places where not only animals, birds, bugs, insects, trees, flowers, and plantlife are protected but the elemental experience of disappearing into nature and connecting to one’s wilder self for a few hours is protected too.
Q: How does the DC Land Trust make an impact?
A: The DCLT has helped preserve more than 8,000 acres of land across the county, including fields, forests, farmlands, orchards, wetlands, and shorelines.
More specifically, the group focuses on protecting native forests, rare and threatened animal species, significant ecosystems like the Niagara Escarpment and its microhabitats, lands impacting water quality and marine wildlife, and bird habitats, both migratory and nesting.
Q: How can I enjoy a nature preserve?
A: All of the DCLT’s properties are free to visit and offer hiking trails for getting deeper into nature. The trails range from 0.5 miles to 3 miles, the perfect lengths for quick hikes and for beginners, kids, and those looking to escape crowds.
Many of the preserves also offer birding, wildlife observation, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and other non-motorized recreation opportunities.
In Door County, preserves are also relatively under-visited, compared to the area’s state parks and other major outdoor attractions, so they’re also places where you can go to find some peace, quiet, and solitude.
Q: What are the names of the preserves and where are they?
A: The DCLT’s 14 nature preserves are found up and down the peninsula and Washington Island and are showcases of the region’s natural beauty—from the sweeping shoreline vistas to the understated forests and wetlands to the hidden wildlife habitats that Door County’s tiniest residents call home.
The preserves include:
- Heins Creek Nature Preserve (Baileys Harbor)
- Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve
- Detroit Harbor Nature Preserve (Washington Island)
- Domer-Neff Nature Preserve & Bird Sanctuary (Washington Island)
- Ephraim Nature Preserve at Anderson Pond (Ephraim)
- Three Springs Nature Preserve (Sister Bay)
- Kangaroo Lake Nature Preserve(Baileys Harbor)
- Lautenbach Woods Nature Preserve (Egg Harbor)
- Legacy Preserve at Clay Banks (Sturgeon Bay)
- Little Lake Nature Preserve (Washington Island)
- Oak Road Nature Preserve (Egg Harbor)
- Richter Community Forest Nature Preserve (Washington Island)
- Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve (Sturgeon Bay)
- White Cliff Nature Preserve (Egg Harbor)
Q: How can I help?
A: If you happen to own a few acres of ecologically significant land in the Door region, donating it to DCLT would be your best bet!
But, if you’re like most of us and you’re simply looking for ways to be a good citizen naturalist, there’s still plenty you can do, including volunteering for the DCLT, becoming a member or making a monthly donation, visiting the preserves to gain a stronger appreciation for nature, and being a vocal advocate for local stewardship and sustainability.
Q: What’s the big picture? What else should I know?
A: The Door County Land Trust, like all local conservation groups, envisions this region’s extraordinary natural lands and scenic beauty being preserved and enjoyed for decades to come.
Exploring and recreating on these lands is a responsibility and a privilege, and each person making an active, concerted effort to be a good steward of the land while they’re here is the only way to achieve this vision.
Watch: The DC Land Trust
Watch this video from our Lesser Known series to get a closer look at the properties that the DCLT preserves and protects.
In addition, check out the Care for Door County initiative, a movement we’ve started to promote sustainable travel, as well as the Door County Leave No Trace 7 Principles, your go-to guide for responsible recreation in the Door region.
Headed to Door County this spring? Be sure to read and sign the Door County Pledge and commit to exploring our parks, preserves, and outdoor spaces safely and responsibly.
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