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Three Ways We Protect Land

The Door County Land Trust works to identify and preserve the “best of the best” of Door County lands and has preserved more than 7,600 acres through the following means:

Nature Preserves and Natural Areas:
Lands Owned by the Door County Land Trust

The Land Trust works with landowners to purchase properties that possess exceptional scenic beauty or ecological significance. We match donations from private individuals with dollars from Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations to fund land purchases. We also accept outright donations of land and partial land donations, lands sold below appraised value, if the properties meet our land protection criteria. Lands owned and managed by the Door County Land Trust are open to the public for many low-impact recreational and educational opportunities. Learn about our nature preserves.

Conservation Easement Agreements:
Lands Owned by Private Landowners

In addition to owning and managing land, the Door County Land Trust relies on another important tool to protect places of significant ecological or scenic value—conservation easement agreements. Conservation easements are legal agreements between a property owner and the Land Trust that permanently restrict the type and amount of future development that can take place on a property. Through these permanent restrictions, the land’s scenic and conservation values are protected. The Door County Land Trust is responsible for upholding the terms of conservation easement agreements in perpetuity.  Lands protected through conservation agreements remain in private ownership and are not open to the public.  Occasionally, conservation easement landowners allow the Door County Land Trust to feature their protected property on guided hikes. Learn more about conservation easements.

Land Transfers:
Lands Owned by Conservation Partner Organizations

The Door County Land Trust often works in partnership with municipalities, government agencies and other conservation organizations. Properties such as Grand View Scenic Overlook and Park and Schwartz Lake Preserve at Shivering Sands were purchased and protected by the Door County Land Trust and subsequently transferred to other entities for long-term care and management.  Guided hikes are offered occasionally at places owned and managed by conservation partners. Learn more about transferred lands.

Selecting Lands for Conservation Priority

With 308,480 total acres of land in Door County and natural features as diverse as bluffs, forests, farmland, cedar swamps, streams, and lakeshore, how does the Land Trust decide which properties are most deserving of protection? This question goes to the very center of the Land Trust’s mission to protect Door County’s exceptional lands and waters forever.

The first step of the Land Trust’s process for identifying exceptional lands involves collaboration with a number of conservation partners to identify gaps in the conservation work being done, creating corridors of protected lands, supporting each other’s conservation objectives, and the health and well-being of the Door County community.
The Land Trust’s work focuses on four conservation targets:

1) Door County’s best remaining native forest communities and the host of rare and threatened species they support;

2) the Niagara escarpment and its unique microhabitats;

3) lands impacting the water quality and natural fisheries of Lake Michigan and Green Bay; and

4) migratory and nesting bird habitats.

Conservation in these areas directly supports the Land Trust’s strategic plan. Read the full story here.