Door County Land Trust Plans to Purchase Well-Known Scenic Door County Property

Campaign launched to raise final $111,519 needed to protect the Grand View property in Ellison Bay.

The Door County Land Trust has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire and permanently protect what is commonly referred to as the “Grand View” property at the top of the hill in Ellison Bay. If completed, the purchase will save a popular scenic vista and prevent a large-scale development project from continuing at this site. The Land Trust has until June 30 to raise the remaining funds needed to protect this 16-acre parcel. If fundraising efforts are successful, the Land Trust expects to complete the purchase of the Grand View property by the end of July.

Fundraising for this purchase got a big boost recently when the Door County Land Trust learned that two large grants it had applied for have been awarded. The Land Trust is poised to receive a $600,750 Scenic Byway grant from the National Highway Department and a $395,755 grant from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund of Wisconsin. The Land Trust must now raise $111,519 in private donations to complete the land acquisition project.

“The Grand View property is one of the most recognizable and beloved views in the county and the state,” states Terrie Cooper, Land Program Director for the Door County Land Trust. “When it became apparent that what had ‘always been here’ might not be here for future generations, the Land Trust began efforts to permanently protect this one-of-a-kind property. We are confident that the community will step forward to help us raise the remaining funds needed to preserve what is truly one of Door County’s natural treasures.”

“The Grand View property is a million dollar-plus project for the Land Trust,” continues Cooper. “We invest significant organizational resources in procuring state and federal grants.  The grants, however, do not cover all of the costs. Therefore, we rely heavily on private donations to help pay for and protect properties like Grand View and many others we are currently working on throughout the county.”

The Grand View property is privately owned, but is visited and photographed by thousands of residents and tourists each year. For decades the landowner maintained this iconic view shed and allowed the public access to this scenic vista. When a 44-unit condominium and residential project was approved for the property and four of the proposed units constructed, continued public enjoyment of this view came into question.

If the Land Trust is successful in acquiring the Grand View property, development on the 16 acres it purchases will be permanently prohibited and the Grand View Scenic Overlook and Park will be established. The park will be open to the public for sightseeing, hiking, picnicking and other low-impact recreational uses. The upper 4 acres of the property will be mowed and maintained as a scenic overlook; the lower 12 acres which include marshy wetlands and two ponds located along the south side of Hillside Drive will undergo habitat restoration and become the site of a new hiking trail system. The current landowners will retain ownership of a small parcel of land adjacent to the 16-acre parcel the Land Trust hopes to acquire; any future development that may take place on the retained parcel will not impact the scenic overlook.

Once a master land management plan for the proposed Grand View Scenic Overlook and Park is written and in place, the Land Trust will transfer ownership and management of the property to the Town of Liberty Grove.

The proposed Grand View Scenic Overlook and Park is the first project along the newly-designated Door County Coastal Byway to be approved for federal Scenic Byway grant funding.  In April of 2010, a 66-mile stretch of highways 42 and 57 north of Sturgeon Bay was officially declared a Wisconsin Scenic Byway.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Scenic Byways are “highway corridors that offer travelers outstanding scenic views combined with recreational and/or cultural attributes.” According to the Wisconsin Scenic Byway’s Citizen Handbook, designation “supports tourism and economic development…strengthens civic pride, and makes communities more attractive places to live and work.”

Ellison Bay resident, Land Trust board member and local business owner, Dave Callsen, is enthusiastic about Grand View’s value to the Door County community. “My wife Vonnie and I drive into Ellison Bay every day and always slow down to marvel at the remarkable view. This very special place has been naively taken for granted until the past few years when the potential for development became real. We now have an opportunity to make sure this incomparable Door County vista will be here for everyone… ALWAYS!  I encourage all who can to help preserve it.”

Contributions to the Door County Land Trust may be sent to DCLT, P.O. Box 65, Sturgeon Bay, WI  54235 or made online at  Any funds raised in excess of those needed for the Grand View project will be used to protect other scenic and ecologically valuable lands throughout Door County.  Additional information on the Grand View property and proposed purchase is also available at this site.  To learn more about the Door County Coastal Byway visit

The Door County Land Trust is a local, non-profit organization celebrating its 25th year of preserving Door County’s finest open spaces and wild places.  Since 1986, the Door County Land Trust has permanently protected over 5,500 acres throughout Door County.   Visit the Land Trust’s website to find out more about the Land Trust and for maps and directions to Land Trust nature preserves.

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