By Caitlin Williamson, director of conservation programs
The shores of Lake Michigan preserve some of the last remaining Great Lakes dunes in Wisconsin, and harbor some of our state’s most incredible and rare flora and fauna. At Kohler Park Dunes State Natural Area in Sheboygan County, a series of beautiful dunes and swales face Lake Michigan. This State Natural Area was created to preserve this unique natural community and provide critical habitat for the rare and endemic species found within it.
The dunes and interdunal wetlands found here are rare, found only in a handful of places in Wisconsin, and provide critical habitat for rare plant species like thickspike, pitcher’s thistle, clustered broomrape, sand reedgrass, dune goldenrod, and prairie dunewort, all of which are listed as threatened or endangered in Wisconsin.
The trail within the Kohler Park Dunes SNA is beautiful, winding along the Lake Michigan coast, between the shore and the white pine forest to the west—but some visitors make their own trails through the SNA, trampling important vegetative communities and damaging rare plants.
Thanks to a grant from the Natural Resources Foundation and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund, we are working with the Friends of Kohler-Andrae State Park and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to help protect the plants found at the Kohler Park Dunes State Natural Area.
This grant will prevent damage and erosion to the dunes by constructing low, wooden fences to deter visitors from the most sensitive areas at Kohler Park Dunes SNA, and by installing and updating cordwalks (strings of cord wood planks pinned to the dunes) to encourage visitors use designated trails. By providing trails for visitors to use, we are encouraging Wisconsinites to learn and explore native landscapes, while ensuring that the rare plants found there are protected for future generations.
Interested in supporting the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund? Make a donation today by visiting WisConservation.org/Donate. Designate your gift to the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund in the endowed fund section.