A New Conservation Easement Protects Forest in Baileys Harbor
Baileys Harbor, WI – Door County Land Trust is thrilled to announce the protection of 40 acres in Baileys Harbor with a perpetual conservation easement agreement. Landowners Tom and Cynthia Wolfe protect the property from future development and add to protected lands within a nearby important Northern Door wildlife corridor.
Tom and Cynthia Wolfe purchased the 40-acre property in 1981 and set out to rebuild a native forest. The land was historically part of a 160-acre dairy farm, before being used for crops and then left fallow. In 1981, after the 40 acres were purchased by the Wolfe family, they began to remove invasive species and replace them with native trees and shrubs. Since then, the Wolfe’s have planted hundreds of trees annually and will continue to expand the forest by planting tamarack and white willow trees this year. As the forest matures and grows, it provides habitat for native wildlife and improves both water and air quality.
The Wolfe’s desire to protect and reforest their land to help combat development and climate change. Tom said, “With climate change accelerating, conservation of nature must also accelerate to try to mitigate its deleterious effects. To quote fellow Wisconsinite John Muir, ‘Anything that is dollarable is not safe’ – meaning not safe from development.”
Located on the western edge of the Ephraim-Baileys Harbor Swamp corridor, one corner of the property connects to the Ramsar designated Door Peninsula Coastal Wetlands, an extensive wetland complex of regional and global importance. The Wolfe conservation easement will help to maintain the rural character of Baileys Harbor by preserving open space and wildlife habitat, while protecting the ecological integrity of the connected landscapes.
Conservation easements are legal agreements that forever protect land and wildlife habitat while allowing land to remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Door County Land Trust Conservation Easement Program Manager Drew Reinke began working with the Wolfe family in early 2019. Reinke says, “Private land conservation is becoming increasingly important in and around Door County, especially in ecologically sensitive areas experiencing an increased amount of development pressure. The great thing about conservation easements are that they keep the land in private ownership while protecting the conservation values in perpetuity.” Landowners can continue to manage their property in a way that is consistent with the conservation easement and the long-term ecological health of the property. This conservation easement prohibits future development outside of the property’s home site, called a building envelope, protecting the property’s ecological value for future generations.
The Wolfe conservation easement is an important step for land protection efforts in Door County. The protected property is less than one mile from four existing conservation easement properties and approximately 1.5 miles from Door County Land Trust’s Kangaroo Lake Nature Preserve. It is the hope of Tom and Cynthia Wolfe that their conservation easement will spur additional conservation easements in the Upper Door watershed and become part of a larger buffer of private open space, land, and habitat reserves.
The Door County Land Trust encourages landowners countywide to consider using conservation easements as a tool to protect their natural areas and farmland from development while maintaining their private ownership. Conservation easement donations may provide tax incentives while protecting the natural and scenic character of Door County. To learn more about conservation easements and protecting the ecological values of private land, please visit www.DoorCountyLandTrust.org/easement or call us at (920)746-1359.