Kellner Fen Natural Area Addition Expands Land Protection

Sandhill Crane

Photo by David Heilman

Sand Hill Cranes are one of many species that will be protected on the new acreage.

The success of Door County Land Trust’s (DCLT) most recent land purchase is the direct result of the generosity of the Fischer family. The new addition of 63 acres extends the protection of water quality and wildlife surrounding the Kellner Fen Natural Area, located near the Lake Michigan shoreline north of Sturgeon Bay. Kellner Fen is a unique type of wetland that features a large expanse of open water and an extensive, fragile sedge mat that floats on top of the underlying water.

This recent addition to the natural area provides an opportunity to increase the protection of several rare species in an equally rare habitat, including carnivorous plants like pitcher plants and unusual insects like the Hine’s emerald dragonfly. The fen and its surrounding dense forests also provide refuge and foraging opportunities for migratory and nesting birds. It’s also the habitat of choice for unusual species of insects like the Hine’s emerald dragonfly, which uses it as a breeding ground.

“Not only is this an ecologically significant purchase, but having the Fisher family’s gift available allowed the Land Trust to move quickly to purchase the land despite the fast-moving real estate market,” said Cinnamon Rossman, Director of Charitable Giving.

Xan and John Fischer of Sturgeon Bay donated $350,000 in their family’s name to contribute to any expansion of the Kellner Fen Natural Area and its permanent protection. Then, last fall the couple set the Land Trust’s Fischer Challenge campaign in motion to entice the community to match their gift and contribute funds for other conservation projects around the county. Hundreds of donors matched—and then exceeded—the Fischer family’s original Challenge. “John and Xan sparked a true grassroots campaign,” Rossman said.

Land Program Director, Jesse Koyen, indicates that the recent purchase checks a lot of ecological boxes. “This land acquisition supports the Land Trust’s continuing goals of protecting hydraulic processes and water quality of wetlands, coastal ridge and swale complexes, contiguous forest canopy and biodiversity, and migratory corridors,” he said. DCLT plans to manage the area as a wilderness preserve with no plans for trails currently.

DCLT’s slate of 2023 conservation projects is supported in part by funds raised from the matching donations sparked by John and Xan Fischer’s original gift. DCLT is using donated funds in its Land Acquisition Fund to continue work on more than seven land acquisition projects currently underway that total about 500 acres. Thanks to DCLT’s Land Acquisition Fund, the organization can move quickly on worthy land protection projects while raising donations to keep the Fund replenished. For more information about Door County Land Trust’s 2023 conservation and stewardship projects and to contribute towards the effort, please visit

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