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Conservation easement a gift to Southern Door water quality

STURGEON BAY – The headwaters of the Ahnapee River gained another level of protection through a conservation easement agreement recently donated to Door County Land Trust.

“The headwaters will be protected in perpetuity, keeping water quality protection as a top conservation focus for the Land Trust in Southern Door,” said Drew Reinke, conservation easement program manager.

The 158-acre property, owned by Patricia A. Nell of Sturgeon Bay, also contains surrounding wetlands that slow down water runoff and filter sediments and nutrients before entering the river.

Pat Nell stresses the importance of being vigilant about the wetlands. “I’ll be keeping an eye on how high my wetlands get,” she said. “If water is pumped from the nearby quarry the wrong way, it goes into everybody’s yards and my wetlands will dry out.”

The Nell conservation easement property is also abundant with wildlife, providing a habitat for red fox, white-tailed deer, turkeys and ruffed grouse, among others.

Patricia and her late husband, Lewis Gibson, MD, bought the property in 1990 from Algoma Lumber. The property was attractive to the couple for deer and bird hunting and to train their dogs for field trials.

Pat said concern that the property could be developed one day led her to contact the Land Trust.

“I don’t want my land chopped up into 10-acre plots,” she said. “I want to protect land and hunting — the things that make Door County unique.”

Door County Land Trust continues to pursue new land protection projects in Southern Door as part of its effort to protect lands that impact local groundwater and surface waters that flow into Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The new conservation easement adds to Southern Door County conservation efforts where in 2021 Door County Land Trust completed a historic land acquisition project that permanently preserved a half-mile stretch of Stony Creek close to where it flows into Lake Michigan.

While conservation easement lands remain privately owned, the Land Trust’s efforts to enforce and maintain these permanent land protection agreements are supported by contributions from members and the community. In 2023, the Land Trust expects to complete the protection of a new 120-acre natural area near Brussels.

Contribution to the effort can be made at www.DoorCountyLandTrust.org/donate.

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