An aerial view of the Gibraltar Ephraim Swamp showing hundreds of green tree tops that look like broccoli.

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A rare coastal wetland on the Door Peninsula is now protected

In 2019, Door County Land Trust permanently protected a total of 120 acres of the Gibraltar-Ephraim Swamp located within the State Natural Area bearing the same name. This rare ecosystem, one of the last coastal wetland habitats on the Door County Peninsula, includes key headwaters of Hidden Springs and Ephraim Creeks along with a mature white cedar forest. The preserved area provides essential benefits to wildlife and humans.

Door County Land Trust purchased the property from landowners, Dennis and Sue Bhirdo, who wanted to ensure the property remained in its natural state and continued to benefit the Door County community. To acquire the land, Door County Land Trust received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and individual donors to match the $204,000 grant from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

The Gibraltar-Ephraim Swamp’s fragile and vital ecosystem supports many rare and endangered plant and animal species like the Dwarf-like Iris, Red-shouldered Hawk, Ram’s-head Lady’s- slipper, and Bald Eagles. It also serves as critical breeding habitat for migrating birds, such as the black-throated-green and black-and-white warblers. It acts as a hatchery for spawning trout.

In addition to sustaining wildlife, the wetland area of Gibraltar-Ephraim Swamp benefits human populations by naturally sequestering carbon from the air, filtering the water, and trapping sedimentation before its waters flow into Eagle Harbor and the Bay of Green Bay. The sponge-like quality of the swamp also protects inland areas from flooding events.

The Gibraltar-Ephraim Swamp is a highly valuable ecological area worthy of protection and preservation.

Featured image by Dan Eggert, courtesy of Door County Land Trust, 2020.

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