20-Year Plan Advances Vision to Inspire the Conservation of Nature
Baileys Harbor, Wis. (September 5, 2023) – In 1934, as a bulldozer stood ready to tear up 40 acres of boreal forest in Baileys Harbor, it was met by fierce opponents. “If you go any further, you will have to scoop us up too!” said Emma Toft, who along with local builder Frank Oldenberg and a delegation of concerned Baileys Harbor citizens, halted plans for a campground that fateful day. Today the special habitat that Toft and many others had the foresight to save has grown to more than 1,600 protected acres with big plans for the future.
With the recent announcement of the adoption of a master plan by its Board of Directors, The Ridges Sanctuary is forming a roadmap for sustainable and strategic growth for the next 20 years. The plan comes at a time when the capacity to meet demand for programming, research and administrative support has been constrained by current facilities. New opportunities to serve the community and to expand the Ridges role as a leader in conservation opened with the recent purchase of the Ridges Inn and Suite, a parcel located adjacent to the Ridges property. At its core, the master plan seeks to preserve and protect the Ridges, while allowing for changes to buildings and programs to deliver on its mission of education, preservation and research.
“The Ridgeshas incredible biodiversity in its flora and fauna. There’s no other place like it – in Door County or the world,” said Jeff Lutsey, Ridges Board President. “Now that we’ve adopted this smart and holistic plan, we’re forming a committee of community professionals to help us decisively move forward.”
Led by SmithGroup and PROS Consulting, a 12-month planning process was initiated and informed by input from a community of Ridges board, staff, members, donors, volunteers and neighbors. Key elements of the plan are:
- Envisioning the Ridges campus of tomorrow with three distinct yet connected areas: A community campus that reconfigures the Cook-Albert Fuller Nature Center to create a larger gathering space. Plans include sustainability enhancements to reach net zero energy and an adjacent open-air shelter as a portal for community events. A research campus with stations that house institutional research and citizen science through adaptive reuse of the former Ridges Inn, and an administration building to gather staff in a collaborative space. The renovated main lodge will allow for research-in-residence programs with on-site lodging for regional partners and institutions. An education campus at the site of existing cabins to meet the demand for educational programming for all ages. Plans include a North Campus classroom and events pavilion and a re-configured Family Discovery Trail with a seasonal pavilion and safe drop-off areas and parking.
- Maximizing current investments by providing educational and support amenities to outlying properties, including a new visitor contact station at Logan Creek and improvements to Appel’s Bluff trails, as well as boardwalk replacement and rustic trail upgrades at the Sanctuary.
- Sustainably managing the organization with plans for land management, climate resiliency, staffing and governance, and business and operations, allowing the Ridges to amplify impact, add volunteers, increase membership and strengthen relevance within the region and beyond.
The mission of The Ridges Sanctuary is to promote positive environmental behaviors through impactful educational experiences, land protection and management, and ecological research. To learn more about the Master Plan initiatives, visit www.ridgessanctuary.org.
About The Ridges Sanctuary: The Ridges Sanctuary is a 1,600-acre private, non-profit nature preserve located in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin. It is listed as a National Natural Landmark, Important Bird Area and Wisconsin State Natural Area. Founded in 1937, the Ridges was protected as Wisconsin’s first land trust to protect and preserve the sensitive habitat found in Baileys Harbor. Today, The Ridges continues to serve Baileys Harbor and inspire the conservation of Nature through Preservation, Education and Research.
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