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Gift nearly doubles state forest at Baileys Harbor

The Baileys Harbor Boreal State Forest includes significant Lake Michigan shoreline.

Posted at 11:15 a.m. on June 27, 2019

The Brillion News

MADISON – The Natural Resources Board on Wednesday accepted a 362-acre donation of Door County land that significantly expands recreational opportunities and protects a rare and unique boreal forest along Lake Michigan harboring dozens of rare animals and plants, including some that are globally rare, and several species of wild native orchids.

The donation, from The Nature Conservancy, will expand the Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest State Natural Area in Door County from its current 486 acres, and open the new parcel to nature-based activities including hiking, bird watching, nature study and hunting. The conservancy used private dollars, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant and funds from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to acquire the land.

“This is a tremendous gift to Wisconsinites now and in the future,” says Drew Feldkirchner, who leads the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation program responsible for managing the State Natural Areas.

“We are grateful for the generosity and partnership of The Nature Conservancy. Their donation safeguards a truly unique property and expands opportunities for nature-based recreation and appreciation.”

Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands is part of an internationally recognized wetland and designated as one of roughly 100 critical habitat areas for birds. Its location along the northeastern coast of the Door Peninsula, influenced by the cool waters of Lake Michigan, allows northern plant and animals species and a boreal forest to thrive here, far south of their normal range.

With 1.5 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline, the state natural area protects large populations of endangered and threatened plants and animals. It supports a wide variety of birds associated with boreal habitats, including yellow-bellied flycatcher, Blackburnian warbler and merlin.

The enlarged state natural area will be managed in part with funds made available through a generous endowment from Patricia Stocking and managed by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. A 190-acre unit of the Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest State Natural area was designated in 2013 to honor Stocking’s late husband, former Natural Resources Board member and chair Jonathan P. Ela, to commemorate his long career and accomplishments as an environmentalist, according to Jim Lemke, DNR real estate section chief.



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