New Property Protects Nature and Memories at Three Springs

Image of forest at edge of Ingid Lawrenz's property which is recently purchased by Door County Land Trust.

A variety of birch, beech, maple, and cedar trees forest the property recently protected at the headwaters of Three Springs Creek.     Photo by Kay McKinley 

Many times when land transfers from private ownership to the Door County Land Trust more than the land itself is exchanged. For Ingrid Nelson Lawrenz, the Sister Bay property she recently sold to the Land Trust holds memories of a lifetime spent indulging in the joys of the wild places just outside her girlhood home. 

It was the memories and desire to leave the land in its natural state that led her to wait for the Land Trust to secure funding before selling her property. It was never on the market. In the last five years, Ingrid said that she received a stream of letters from strangers asking her to sell her land. Answering some of the requests, she would simply write, “Never!”

“I’m very protective of it,” she said. “Every spring I go into the woods and it’s full of wildflowers. In the woods, a spring bubbles up where we caught so many fish—it’s incredibly fun to see fish around your feet. There’s also an increased population of fishers, gray and red fox, and raccoons. Cougars and bears have also come through.”

For the Land Trust, Ingrid’s description represents saving land with high ecological significance, especially with the location near the organization’s Three Springs Nature Preserve. The groundwater springs on the property are part of the headwaters of Three Springs, which flows into North Bay before entering Lake Michigan. This means that the Land Trust is extending the protection of water quality in Sister Bay. 

Ingrid shared her appreciation for nature with her children from an early age. Ingrid and her daughter, Eva, enjoy a trip to The Ridges around 1990. Submitted photo

To Ingrid, it’s about having the satisfaction of knowing that the waters where she fished and rafted with family members will be protected. It’s also knowing that the woodland wildflowers she and her daughter Eva laid down in will return each spring. And that the wildlife she spied on will continue to raise families in the woods, wetlands, and fields—just as she was raised on the property.  

“It’s important to me that bees will remain in our field” she said. “It’s so exciting for me.” 

Since birth, Ingrid has been surrounded by family on 200 acres of land that meets at the crossroads of Old Stage and Waters End Roads. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Isaac Nelson, was the first family member to purchase land in the area. Her maternal grandfather, Gust Johns, purchased his 40 acres across the street from Nelson during the Great Depression.  

Ingrid’s love of nature has been shared by her husband, Melvin, and her son, Christopher, and daughter, Eva. When the couple moved from the home where she grew up in Door County to Waukesha, the family returned to Door County frequently to immerse themselves in nature again. “The kids spent summers here and loved it,” she said. “When they were in grade school, they knew the names of the birds, flowers and trees on our property.”

Eva Lawrenz with wildflowers she picked in the woods on her family’s property. Submitted photo

Entrusting such a cherished piece of land can take courage. For Ingrid, she’s more than confident with the Land Trust’s purchase. “I believe in what the Land Trust is doing,” she said. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”  

Located near Three Springs Nature Preserve, Ingrid’s property extends the protection of wildlife within the Three Springs to North Bay forested land corridor. Composed of connected lands—or those within proximity—the corridor allows for the movement of wildlife, which is necessary for their survival. Although the Lawrenz property is not open to the public at this time, visitors can enjoy the Land Trust’s Three Springs Nature Preserve. Free and open to the public, the preserve’s 1.75-mile looped hiking trail features a scenic lookout over springs and wetlands. The preserve also contains old stone fences and historic farm buildings, including a barn that is a significant roosting site for little brown bats. 

Details about hiking at the Three Springs Nature Preserve >> 

Funding for the purchase of this property was provided by the WI-DNR Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and the Fox Valley and Green Bay Natural Resources Trustees. A separate donated property provided necessary matching support, and generous contributions from Land Trust members and the community will help to complete the necessary care of the property now and in the future.

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