The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve, located within the city limits of Sturgeon Bay, is as ecologically diverse as it is beautiful. From the water, sand dunes give way to a forested ridgeswale landscape where towering white pines, hemlocks and red maples blanket ancient shore ridges. To the west, Strawberry Creek emerges from a large cedar wetland and meanders its way to the waters of Sturgeon Bay. A sand ridge on the northern preserve boundary offers magnificent views of two historic lighthouses and the entrance to the ship canal below.
Rare and threatened species such as the dune thistle, dune goldenrod, dwarf lake iris, bald eagle, Caspian tern and osprey call this preserve home. It is also one of the region’s most critical resting spots for migrating neo-tropical birds.
The Ship Canal preserve has witnessed much history. It was once the site of a heavily-travelled Native American portage route between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. In 1872, European settlers began construction of the 7,400-foot canal, which permanently linked the two bodies of water. More recently, the property was considered for large-scale developments including a coal-fueled power plant and an aquatic-based industrial center. In its preserved state, it will be enjoyed by visitors and residents for generations to come.