Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Jackson Harbor Ridges State Natural Area: Thomas Meyer

Jackson Harbor Ridges State Natural Area
Thomas Meyer

June 2014

Wisconsin, naturally

Jackson Harbor Ridges State Natural Area

Thomas A. Meyer, State Natural Areas Program

Notable: Perched off the tip of the Door Peninsula on Washington Island, Jackson Harbor Ridges protects several Great Lakes coastal plant communities and an exceptionally rich flora of uncommon plants. The landscape undulates, with areas of dry, sandy ridges separated by low, wet swales. This “swell and swale” topography represents the former shorelines of early Lake Michigan as the last glacier receded. The swales harbor Kalm’s lobelia, shrubby cinquefoil, bird’s-eye primrose, low calamint, and slender bog arrow-grass. The dune-like ridges nearest the lake are stabilized by common and creeping junipers, bearberry, sand coreopsis, dune goldenrod, bastard toadflax and the vibrant orange wood lily (seen right). Behind the dunes is a mixed conifer-hardwood forest of red and white pines, white cedar, balsam fir, and American beech. Patches of the federally-threatened dwarf lake iris are scattered throughout the site. A narrow sand spit at the entrance to the harbor attracts gulls, terns, shorebirds and waterfowl.

How to get there: From the ferry landing on Washington Island, Door County, go north on Lobdell Point Road (County Highway W) 1.8 miles, then continue north on Main Road 2.6 miles, then go east and north on Jackson Harbor Road 3.9 miles. Turn left on Indian Point Road and continue to a parking area at the Jackson Harbor Ridges town park on the right. The site is owned by the town of Washington, which designated it a State Natural Area in 1973 in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search “Jackson Harbor Ridges” for a map and more information.