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Places We Protect

Detroit Harbor

Since 1986, the Door County Land Trust has protected over 6,500 acres in almost every corner of Door County.  From the northern tip of Washington Island south to the Door-Kewaunee county line, the lands we preserve represent the finest open spaces and wild places Door County has to offer.

In recent years, our land protection efforts have been focused on the protection of specific sites throughout the county that have been identified for their ecological importance and scenic beauty.

These "Special Places", as we refer to them, showcase the best of Door County’s diverse and inspiring natural landscapes. From small nature sanctuaries hidden within our villages, to miles of scenic open space along our rural roadways, to thousands of acres of critical wildlife habitat, these places represent Door County’s irreplaceable treasure.

These are the places the Door County Land Trust is committed to protecting through a variety of strategies including purchase, acceptance of donations of land or conservation easement agreements, and partnering with other conservation groups.

While the majority of our efforts are aimed at protecting the lands within these Special Places, we also partner with landowners in other parts of Door County to protect properties that have significant conservation and scenic value.  Visit the Protect Your Land section of this website for more information about how we work with individual landowners.
White Cliff Fen Preserve- Photo by Zak LaCrosse
The following Special Places were identified through a variety of efforts and in partnership with other conservation groups, including, The Nature Conservancy, the Ridges Sanctuary, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  While the Land Trust has begun work at every one of these Special Places, some projects are further along than others.  A few are nearing completion with significant acreage already under permanent protection while others are just beginning. Keep up to date on our latest successes by reading about our Recent Projects.

Please Note:  Not all of the places described below are owned and managed by the Door County Land Trust

Some protected lands remain under private ownership and are NOT open to the public.  

Please see the Visit our Preserves section of this website for information about Door County Land Trust Preserves, opportunities for outdoor recreation on lands open to the public, and to print trail maps and directions.


The Door County Land Trust's Special Places

1. White Cliff Fen and Forest Preserve Village of Egg Harbor and Town of Gibraltar: Along bucolic White Cliff Road, the high bluffs of the Niagara Escarpment provide a stunning backdrop to a unique 30-acre wetland that is surrounded by old growth white cedar.

2. Ephraim Preserve at Anderson Pond
Village of Ephraim: A serene wetland complex surrounded by an ancient beach ridge and wooded bluffs provides a sanctuary for wildlife and people in the heart of Ephraim.

3. Bay Shore Blufflands Preserve
Towns of Egg Harbor and Sevastopol: The scenic bluffs overlooking the sparkling waters of Green Bay provide the backdrop to one of Wisconsin’s beautiful nature preserves.

4. Kellner Fen Preserve
Town of Sturgeon Bay: Just inland from the shores of Lake Michigan, the Kellner Fen Preserve is a magical wetland of floating sedge mats providing undisturbed refuge to a host of rare plants, animals and migrating birds.

5. Oak Road Wetland Preserve
Egg Harbor Township: Large open wetlands surrounded by farm and forest provide ideal habitat for a diversity of waterfowl including Sandhill cranes, wood duck and trumpeter swan.

6. Detroit Harbor Preserve
Washington and Detroit Islands: Lying along the pristine shores of Washington and Detroit Islands, this preserve is home to rare plants and animals, productive spring-fed wetlands and critical Smallmouth Bass breeding grounds.

7. Little Lake Preserve
Washington Island: 250 feet of cobblestone ridge is the only thing that separates Lake Michigan from Little Lake. Washington Island’s only inland lake provides habitat for rare plants such as the dwarf lake iris and showy-lady’s slipper orchid and is home to an historic Native American village and burial ground.

8. Lautenbach Woods Preserve
Town of Egg Harbor: On and below this undeveloped stretch of Niagara Escarpment is found a diverse ecosystem of forest, hardwood swamp, and one of the area’s largest cave systems.

9. Southern Shores
Township of Clay Banks: Historic farmland and red clay bluffs overlook thousands of feet of wild Lake Michigan shore and provide travelers along County Highway U and S. Lake Michigan Drive with magnificent rural scenery.

10. Hibbards Creek Preserve
Town of Jacksonport: The crystal-clear water of Hibbards Creek winds its way through some of County Highway A’s most scenic vistas.

11. Picha Woods Preserve at Thorp Pond
Town of Egg Harbor: Thorp Pond is a circular, peat bottom, spring-fed pond surrounded by large stands of upland hardwoods. It provides ideal habitat for many species of migratory songbirds.

12. Kangaroo Lake Preserve
Town of Baileys Harbor: Situated on the north end of Kangaroo Lake where Peil Creek empties its spring-fed waters, this preserve is a splendid mix of forest, escarpment and wetlands and provides habitat for waterfowl and fish, outstanding scenery and many recreational opportunities.

13. Porte des Mort Forest Preserve
Town of Liberty Grove: Old growth stands of hemlock and hardwoods give way to the rugged shoreline bluffs overlooking the waters of “Death’s Door.” The preserve also protects a scenic stretch of Highway 42 near the ferry terminal at Northport.

14. Brussels Hill and Kayes Creek Preserve
Brussels and Gardner Townships: Deep ravines, rocky outcrops, stately forests, scenic overlooks, and large wetlands mark the Brussels Hill/Kayes Creek Preserve in the heart of Southern Door.

15. Richter Community Forest
Washington Island: This 160-acre forest is a natural refuge for islanders and visitors alike and an outdoor living classroom for Washington Island’s school children and their teachers to explore.

16. Gilson-Peterson Forest
Town of Liberty Grove: This beautiful hemlock, white pine, and hardwood forest hosts a wonderful understory of spring wildflowers and offers a quiet place for visitors to enjoy the natural world.

17. Highway 57 Scenic Corridor
Towns of Baileys Harbor and Liberty Grove: Partnering with area property owners, the Land Trust is working hard to preserve the rural character and wildlife habitat along this stretch of highway between Baileys Harbor and the Village of Sister Bay.

18. Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Property
City of Sturgeon Bay: South of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal along the shores of Lake Michigan, hundreds of undeveloped acres of sand dunes, ridge and swale, forest and wetlands offer a potential nature sanctuary and recreation area near the city of Sturgeon Bay.

19. Woods at Monument Point
Town of Egg Harbor: Situated along the top of the Niagara Escarpment is a place filled with lush ferns, dazzling spring wildflowers, and towering hemlock, maple and oak trees.

20. Harold C. Wilson Three Springs Nature Preserve – Town of Liberty Grove: This 421-acre property lies two miles east of Sister Bay and is a central part of one of Wisconsin’s most impressive wildlife corridors. Fresh water springs on this parcel form the headwaters of Three Springs Creek and the federally endangered Hines Emerald Dragonfly, the Dwarf Lake Iris and other rare plants and animals can also be found at this beautiful property.

21. Kreuter Preserve – Town of Clay Banks: This 91-acre property hosts 3,000 feet of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline as well as wind-swept fields and an impressive cedar forest.  On the western portions of this preserve a steep bluff rises above the waters of Lake Michigan offering visitors one of the most impressive views in all of Door County.   

22. Coffey Swamp – Washington Island: Coffey Swamp occupies a former embayment of Lake Michigan along the northern coast of Washington Island. This natural area features a shallow, hard water wetland and is surrounded by an open, treeless, boreal-rich fen dominated by wire-leaved sedges, sweet gale, and hoary willow. Adjoining the fen is a northern white cedar forest situated on ridges and swales.

23. Big and Little Marsh – Washington Island: Big and Little Marsh features a complex of boreal rich fen, northern wet-mesic forest, and a large aquatic marsh. Located on the east-central portions of Washington Island, the site harbors numerous rare species. Of interest is the sandy, cobble beach that harbors patches of the federally threatened dwarf lake iris. An upland hardwood forest of white cedar and hemlock surrounds the wetlands. Many birds funnel through this area during spring and fall migrations and a diversity of neotropical migrants breed here in summer.

24. Chambers Island – Town of Gibraltar: This wooded, largely undeveloped island, located about 5 miles off the shores from Fish Creek, is home to a mature hardwood and hemlock forest, a pristine, inland lake, and miles and miles of Green Bay lakeshore. The Door County Land Trust is working closely with the Chambers Island Association to identify and protect the islands most critical tracts.

25. Ephraim Swamp to Baileys Harbor Swamp Corridor – Towns of Gibraltar and Baileys Harbor: This large wildlife corridor runs from the Village of Ephraim on Green Bay southeast to Baileys Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan. An impressive cedar forest, high-quality wetlands, and stunning views from the top of the Niagara Escarpment are a few features of this natural landscape.

Although we’ve enjoyed many conservation successes and have recently surpassed 6,500 acres under protection, there is still much work to do.  We will continue working to protect these Special Places, but we can’t do it without your help.

Please see Visit our Preserves for information about Door County Land Trust Preserves, opportunities for outdoor recreation on lands open to the public, and to print trail maps and directions.

The Protect Your Land section of our website explores options for local landowners who want to plan for the future of their Door County property.  You can download our Guide to Land Protection Strategies here, too. 

Or find out about all the ways to Support Our Work.


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Door County Land Trust
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

E-mail: info@doorcountylandtrust.org

Sturgeon Bay Phone: (920) 746-1359
Sister Bay Phone: (920) 854-47

Copyright © 2013 Door County Land Trust.  All Rights Reserved.  Last modified: 09/11/13