Chambers Island, WI: The Door County Land Trust is thrilled to announce that the two small islands in Lake Mackaysee are now officially part of the Door County Land Trust’s 600-acre Chambers Island Nature Preserve. The Town of Gibraltar aided the process by purchasing the islands from the Wisconsin Commission of Public Lands, and then sold them immediately to the Door County Land Trust to be protected as part of the Chambers Island Nature Preserve. All expenses for the purchase of the islands were paid for by Door County Land Trust and Chambers Island Nature Preserve supporters.
The two islands in Lake Mackaysee were owned by the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands and were designated to be sold, with local units of government having the first opportunity. Door County Land Trust approached the Town of Gibraltar to form a plan to protect the islands. In summer 2017, the Town of Gibraltar asked voters for approval to assist the Door County Land Trust in purchasing the islands for conservation, with the agreement that the Land Trust would pay 100% of the purchase costs. The Door County Land Trust, in partnership with the Chambers Island Nature Preserve committee raised the private funds necessary to purchase the islands and completed the acquisition on September 19, 2018.
“It takes a community to protect its islands. These islands in a lake on an island in the lake provide critical habitat for migratory birds as they travel from central and south America to Canada. Additionally, the mature forest on these islands have supported a pair of bald eagles nesting here for many years who use the trees as fishing perches,” shares Terrie Cooper, Land Trust’s Community Conservation Director.
Protecting Chambers Island was recognized as a priority during joint conservation planning sessions in 2013-2015 with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy and others. Chambers Island provides vital stop-over and nesting habitat for migratory birds, song birds and waterfowl. Chambers Island is dominated by hardwood and cedar forests with contiguous canopy and wetlands including a leather-leaf muskeg (bog), the only one of its kind in Door County. The mature forests on the Mackaysee Islands provide important habitat for nesting bald eagles and other wetland species of plants and animals.
By 2020, Door County Land Trust expects to have protected about 800 acres, thanks to significant financial contributions from islanders and Door County Land Trust members. These private donations have been matched by funds provided through the State of Wisconsin DNR Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund Grant Program, the Fox River Natural Resource Damage Assessment funds, and North American Wetland Conservation Act Grant Funds. Fundraising for the Chambers Island Nature Preserve continues as needs for the ongoing care of the island’s vital wildlife habitat are identified.