Chambers Island Nature Preserve grows with donation to Door County Land Trust
TOWN OF GIBRALTAR - The Chambers Island Nature Preserve grew by another 22.75 acres after a parcel of land on the island was bought by the Door County Land Trust.
The land acquired for the preserve is the isthmus that runs between the island’s Lake Mackaysee and the bay of Green Bay. Described by the land trust as an "ecological gem" forested by red oaks, sugar maples, white pines, beeches and hemlock, many of them more than 150 years old, it's part of the grounds where the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay formerly ran their Holy Name Retreat. The diocese closed the retreat in 2014 and has been selling parts of the property since to residents of the island, located in the bay about 7 miles west of the Fish Creek shore.
The purchase of this land was largely driven by island residents who raised funds and donated them to the land trust for that purpose, executive director Emily Wood said. The trust bought the land from Chambers Island Capital Investors, LLC, a group of islanders that came together and raised funds to purchase the parcel from the diocese, as well as removing the buildings and preparing the site to add it to the preserve. The trust and island residents have worked together to create and expand the preserve since the retreat closed.
The land trust's original plan was to protect about 830 of Chambers Island's 3,200 acres, and this addition means 826 are now protected.
Besides expanding the preserve, a press release from the land trust said the addition will help provide critical wildlife and fish habitat through a Natural Resources Damage Assessment grant to help offset damage from PCB contamination in the bay and the Fox River and the bay of Green Bay.
The Chambers Island Nature Preserve is composed of diverse ecosystems that include wetlands, forest, beach, ridges and swales, and lake habitats. It is home to many plant, animal, bird and insect species, some classified as endangered, threatened or of special concern. Twenty-seven bird species are identified as Species of Greatest Conservation Need, according to the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan. The preserve is not easily accessible to the public because the island can be reached only by private boat or plane.
Door County Land Trust aims to protect the wild places, scenic beauty and ecological integrity that make the Peninsula special. Fourteen featured nature preserves are open for hiking and other low-impact, non-motorized recreational activities at no charge to the public. For trail maps, donations to the trust or more information, visit doorcountylandtrust.org.
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This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Door County nature preserve grows with donation to land trust