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Conservation grant for The Ridges Sanctuary

Wetlands at The Ridges Sanctuary

A Door County wildlife area is getting an update.

Some more work is being done to go along with a new nature center at the Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor.

Wild grass stretches to the sky in a man-made drainage field called a bio-swale. And a centuries-old wetlands has been transformed to its original look.

"What we've done is we've pulled it back, so that from up here you can see back into the swale. And you can see those ridges and swales that mimic what's going on in the rest of the sanctuary," said Brian Forest, The Ridges Sanctuary Land Manager.

Forest says an evergreen-topped hill at the site was an area contaminated with kerosene.

"There was a restaurant here. There was decades of of fish boils that had accumulated in the soil. We've removed it, he said.

The landscape improvements at The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor are part of a $75,000 grant from the private foundation called Fund for Lake Michigan.

"We think it's an excellent demonstration site. The Ridges Sanctuary was already a popular destination for tourists. I think with this new interactive beautiful center, it's going to draw a whole lot more people to Baileys Harbor," said Vicki Elkin, Fund for Lake Michigan Executive Director.

The grant itself is not part of a $3.5 million construction project at the nature center. But it does tie in to a larger effort. It's what the sanctuary calls a living laboratory.

"This part of the trail, this new boardwalk is going to showcase some of the research we're doing. We've got ongoing research with the D.N.R. for Dwarf Lake Iris. We've got an orchid propagation project that we are taking seed-sources from the sanctuary," said Forest.

Forest says the living laboratory is a good mix of protection, education, and research.

"We want to bring awareness to what we're doing here at the sanctuary, and why places like this are important," he said.

The Fund for Lake Michigan is based in Milwaukee.

Three power companies provide $4 million in grants each year to support restoration projects along Lake Michigan.

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