Conservation Easement Donation Protects Water Quality and Wildlife Habitat

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Schmidtke Family Photo

Door County, WI – Door County Land Trust is excited to announce the donation of a perpetual conservation easement on 20 acres in the Town of Gardner in Southern Door County. As active stewards of their property, brothers Erich and Peter Schmidtke, are pleased to donate the conservation easement and help maintain the rural character of the Gardner area while preserving open space, fish and wildlife habitats, and water quality.

The property has been owned by the Schmidtke family since 1995. It contains two large open meadows, historically used for agriculture prior to Schmidtke family ownership, which have now been restored with native tree and shrub species. With a passion for conservation, the Schmidtke’s purchased the property and enrolled in the DNR’s Managed Forest Law Program, which will continue under the conservation easement. The property serves as a migratory stopover point and the brothers have witnessed massive monarch migrations overnighting on pine trees which, according to landowner Erich Schmidtke, happens annually.

Located within the Sugar Creek-Frontal Green Bay Watershed, the property is on the edge of the Niagara escarpment and less than 325 feet from the Bay of Green Bay. A stream meanders through the property, which is lined with an assortment of towering trees, primarily sugar maple and white pine. The property provides important natural habitat for the peninsula’s wildlife. Wisconsin DNR biologists think the stream likely serves as spawning and rearing habitat for a variety of fish species commonly found in Green Bay. 

Conservation easements are legal agreements that forever protect land and wildlife habitat while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Door County Land Trust Conservation Easement Program Manager Drew Reinke began working with the Schmidtke family in early 2019. Reinke says, “Private land conservation is becoming increasingly important in and around Door County, especially in ecologically sensitive areas experiencing an increased amount of development pressure. The great thing about conservation easements are that they keep the land in private ownership while protecting the conservation values in perpetuity.” Landowners can continue to manage their property in a way that’s consistent with the conservation easement and the long-term ecological health of the property. This conservation easement prohibits all future development on this parcel, protecting its ecological value for future generations.

The Schmidtke conservation easement fits well within the Door County Land Trust’s land protection efforts in Southern Door County. The protected property is less than one mile west of Wisconsin DNR’s Gardner Swamp State Wildlife Area and is also less than 3.5 miles from another Door County Land Trust 460-acre conservation easement. It is the hope of the Schmidtke family and Door County Land Trust that this conservation easement will inspire additional conservation efforts in Southern Door County.

For full press release – click here!

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