City of Sturgeon Bay Endorses Plan to Establish Nature Preserve along Lake Michigan and the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal

Door County Land Trust Launches Campaign to Fund Project

Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal

The efforts to establish a 332-acre nature preserve along the shores of Lake Michigan and the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal received a boost Tuesday night when the Sturgeon Bay City Council gave the owners of the property, the Sturgeon Bay Utilities, the go ahead to enter into an Offer to Purchase with the Door County Land Trust.  The Land Trust, a non-profit land conservation organization, has been working to create a public nature preserve at this Sturgeon Bay lakeside location for nearly seven years.

“The Door County Land Trust is obviously very pleased with the City Council’s decision tonight. Now our full attention can turn to raising the $2 million that will be needed to make this nature preserve a reality,” comments Dan Burke, Executive Director of the Door County Land Trust.

The Door County Land Trust has submitted applications and hopes to receive nearly $1.7 million in grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund of Wisconsin. If this level of grant funding is awarded, the Land Trust will need to raise $300,000 in private donations to match the grants and to fully fund the project.

Under the terms of the purchase agreement between the Door County Land Trust and the Sturgeon Bay Utilities, the Land Trust has until mid-fall to secure the needed funding. If the funds are not secured by this time, the Land Trust has the option to forego the purchase. “While we recognize that these are tough economic times, we are confident the dollars can be raised,” explains Burke.  “Many people have been waiting a very long time to finally have the opportunity to save this remarkable place. It’s a gem that deserves to be enjoyed by generations to come.”

This Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal property is bounded on the east by hundreds of feet of sandy, picturesque Lake Michigan shoreline and on the north by thousands of feet along the south side of the Sturgeon Bay shipping canal.  The property supports a diversity of habitat types that can rarely be found on a single tract of land and supports many rare and unique plants and animals including bald eagles, osprey and dune’s thistle.

If this public nature preserve comes to fruition, the property will be permanently protected and open to the public for nature-based outdoor recreational opportunities including hiking, fishing, hunting (in accordance to City Ordinance), swimming, scientific research and as an educational resource for school children and adults alike.

“It is the intention of the Door County Land Trust to reach out and partner with others to manage this preserve and to increase and improve the opportunities the public has to experience and learn from this special place,” states Burke.

The Door County Land Trust is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in 1986 with a mission to preserve, protect and maintain lands that contribute significantly to the scenic beauty, open space and ecological integrity of Door County. To date, the Land Trust oversees the protection of 4,800 acres throughout Door County.  To find out more about the work of the Land Trust and to contribute to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Nature Preserve project, please visit

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