Treasures of Oz

Celebrating the Natural Gems of Ozaukee County

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Donges Bay Gorge

Category: Nature Preserves
Location: Mequon Show More
Size: 23.0 Acres
Hits: 6191

The historic Kurth property is located along the shore of Lake Michigan in southeastern Mequon. The property contains a designated Natural Area known as the Donges Bay Gorge. The site is also home to several rare and threatened plant and animal species including a pair of bald eagles and their offspring. This is the first successful nesting by eagles in Southeastern Wisconsin in over 100 years.  The Land Trust was able to raise funds to purchase 23 acres on the east side of the property including most of the Nature Area, the entire ravine and shoreline.

The Kurth property is one of the last remaining 20 plus acre undeveloped sites located along the shore of Lake Michigan in southeastern Ozaukee County. The property includes such features as steep lake slopes, beach, an undulating upland lake bluff and a ravine which extends through the central and southern portion of the property. The proximity to Lake Michigan results in a climate of cooler summers and persisting snowfall that enables species of the northern conifer-hardwood forest to coexist with those of the typical southern hardwood forest. The interspersion of vegetation of the upland area, ravine, bluff slopes and lake shore provides a diversity of habitats for a variety of wildlife including songbirds, wild turkey, waterfowl, squirrels, woodland mice, raccoons, opossums, fox and deer.  Recently a pair of bald eagles and their offspring were documented inhabiting the site. In similar habitat and further along the lake shore sightings have been made of bobcat and pileated woodpeckers. On occasion the rare Kirtland's warbler has been known to use these lake-shore conifers. Read More

Eco-Tour Details Discover the deep ravines and learn about ravine ecology with expert Matt Smith. Walk the trail and bridges of the preserve. See the stone relics from when this property was an elegant estate. Do some birding with birding experts. Bring your camera and capture the dramatic images of this unique preserve.
Activities Hiking
Special Features Bird Watching, Rare Species
Amenities Parking (limited)
Water Lake Michigan
Property Ozaukee Washington Land Trust

Donges Bay Gorge

   Continued

These intact woodlands provide a 'first-class hotel' for neo-tropical migratory birds using the Lake Michigan migration flyway, both in Spring and again in Fall.  The upland portion of the property is a woodland consisting of white pine, sugar maple, white birch, hop hornbeam, red oak, American basswood, large-tooth aspen and American beech. Biologists have documented common spring-flowering plants include trilliums, yellow trout lily, spring beauty, wild onion, wild geranium, white and red bane-berry and mayapple. The former owners worked diligently to protect these ephemeral beauties from many threats of destruction. Other rare wildflowers may still exist and will likely reappear with ecologically correct land management.

In the northeast portion several acres were cleared for a residence, pool and a tennis court (all non-extant), and pool house. Some of this area has been landscaped with introduced plants. A small stone bridge was constructed over the ravine and a long drive connects the entrance on Lake Shore Drive to where the residence once stood.

From a historic preservation standpoint it is important to note that the landscape plan for the site was designed by famed landscape architect Jens Jensen. Although degraded over time, much of Jensen’s influence on the landscape remains. Jensen’s original plans for the site have been found and will be used to help preserve a portion of the property. In addition, the prominent Milwaukee architect Thomas VanAlyea was the designer of the 1930s era stone structures, which remain on the site.

Just to the south, this land adjoins North Fairy Chasm subdivision and Fairy Chasm Preserve. Together, these areas create a greatly expanded wildlife refuge for both the common and endangered inhabitants of this ecologically unique place. These lands suggest a primeval Wisconsin. With careful planning its beauty and awe will be discovered anew by future Wisconsin generations.

For more information about the Donges Gorge Natural Area and how you can help preserve this special property, please call the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust at (262)338-1794


Give me a wildness whose glance no civilization can endure.
-- Henry David Thoreau

Location

10370 W Wildwood Ct., 53092, Mequon

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