Before the first settlers arrived, Door County was forested from shore to shore with cedar, hemlock, fir, spruce and other trees. Acre by acre, these trees were logged and shipped to Chicago and Milwaukee to build the growing cities and to provide tannins for the leather industry. What little remained in the forests was burned, creating fields for grazing and agriculture. Each time the forests and soils were disturbed, new species—not native to this system—were introduced, setting the native ecology off balance.
Steep cliffs and low-lying wetlands were spared. Now these places offer a window to the past and a model of ecological balance. Forest canopies shade out non-native plants and provide essential habitat for native plants. Tree roots beneath the forest floor filter our drinking water and the water of our lakes and bays.
Restoring Forest Habitat
Replanting the Door County Land Trust’s nature preserves with native trees may be one of the most effective ways of restoring ecological balance. Reforestation projects serve multiple purposes, like creating wildlife habitat, shading out non-native invasive species, and buffering run-off and erosion on adjacent lands.
Read more about recent tree-planting projects >>
Monitoring and Removing Invasive Species
Door County’s rare and threatened plants are in jeopardy not just from the visible development that can be easily seen, but from invasive plants hidden amongst the green. Not all green is good!
Consider invasive plants as those who have developed exceptional ability to propagate. Some plant roots emit toxins killing anything but their own kind, other bind and strangle other plants. Some are able to grow earlier in the spring, and faster than anything in the vicinity, out-competing for nutrients and starving their native plant neighbors.
The detriment to the balance of our Door County system is pervasive.
Birds become sick eating the non-native berries of the invasive honeysuckle. Wetlands are turned acrid from the toxic roots of the buckthorn, negatively impacting the breeding of our spring peepers and leopard frogs. And the list goes on.
The Door County Land Trust is particularly at risk to invasive species from our neighboring southern states. Migrating birds, avid hikers and even the family dog can unwittingly carry the seeds, spores or insects that set our systems off balance.
The Door County Land Trust response is to watch the spread of these plants, plan for eradication, and reintroduce native species. Restoration is a long-term commitment. Invasive species eradication is just the beginning!
Volunteering on the Land
The Door County Land Trust Stew Crew is the heart and soul of the work we do to protect Door County’s exceptional lands and waters forever. Volunteers maintain trails and preserve infrastructure, monitor and conduct biological inventories, eradicate invasive species, and obtain a sense of place by being a part of an energetic and dynamic crew working to achieve common goals.
Volunteering on the Land >>
Maintaining Trails and Public Access
The Door County Land Trust nature preserves are free and open to the public, every day of the year. We maintain the preserves for recreational activities, like hiking, wildlife observation, snow-shoeing, and other low-impact, non-motorized sports. Maintaining the preserves is a team effort, and relies on a crew of volunteers led by our staff.
Research at the Nature Preserves
The Door County Land Trust protects a number of rare, threatened and endangered plants that are the subject of ongoing study by partner organizations. Research is shared with the Door County Land Trust, but is otherwise managed by the partnering organizations.
Hunting and Ecological Balance
The Door County Land Trust relies on the good sportsmanship of local hunters to help control deer and turkey populations which pose a threat to the balance of ecological systems. Rules and regulations for the State of Wisconsin and Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund guide our management of hunting. For details, please visit the Hunting Information Page.
Occasionally the Door County Land Trust purchases or is donated lands which have a Managed Forest Law contract in existence.