Forest Beach Migratory Preserve: A Flyway Replaces the Fairway

Project Summary: Turning a 116-acre golf course into a nature preserve has allowed migratory birds a place to shelter along the coast of Lake Michigan.

Project Name: A Migratory Flyway on Lake Michigan

Location: Belgium, Wisconsin

Description: A former golf course near the shore of Lake Michigan has been turned into a migratory preserve for the many birds that

A summer intern helps relocate a snapping turtle as part of a pond restoration effort. Amphibians and reptiles were relocated temporarily while a pond was drained and reconstructed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Photo courtesy of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

A summer intern helps relocate a snapping turtle as part of a pond restoration effort. Amphibians and reptiles were relocated temporarily while a pond was drained and reconstructed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Photo courtesy of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

use the Lake Michigan Flyway. The Forest Beach Migratory Preserve is 116 acres, with a mix of hardwood forest with seasonal ponds, prairie, and constructed wetlands. The land trust that owns the site has removed invasive species and is encouraging native plants to thrive. Besides restoring natural habitat to the former golf course, the preserve aims to introduce vegetation to protect the water quality of Lake Michigan through natural filtration. Wetlands and space for ephemeral ponds absorb stormwater, filter pollutants, and provide other vital services. They also are a habitat for migratory birds, reptiles, and insects. Educational facilities and a trail system encourage people to learn more about migratory birds and the importance of their habitats. The site of the former golf course has been returned to a more natural state—benefitting both people and wildlife.

Approximate Cost of the Project: $2,900,000 with some funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Members of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust Youth Corps install a kestrel box. Photo courtesy of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

Members of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust Youth Corps install a kestrel box. Photo courtesy of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.

Resource Challenges Addressed: Excess nutrient run-off, excessive water use from the golf course, lack of habitat for migratory birds

Key Partners (Public and Private): Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ozaukee-Washington County Land Trust, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Riveredge Nature Center Bird Club, SciTech Adventures, Lake Road Properties, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, Cederburg Science, LCC., Great Lakes Ecological Services, LCC., EC3 Environmental Consulting Group, Inc., Pheasants Forever, and many neighbors and volunteers

Types of Jobs Created: Research scientists, seasonal staff, college interns, management contractors, signage contractors, planters, pond construction workers, invasive species management; project also benefitted local nurseries, hardware stores, and suppliers of herbicides for invasive plants

Results and Accomplishments: The Forest Beach Migratory Preserve has already recorded 230 bird species using the site, a number that exceeds expectations. Nine different habitat types on site provide shelter for at least 80 rare or declining bird species that use the Lake Michigan Flyway each year. Birds such as the black-billed cuckoo, eastern meadowlark, solitary sandpiper, and golden-winger warbler are using the habitats provided. Converting the land into a preserve prevented 10 tons of fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides from being applied to the landscape. In addition, nearby towns and villages that were having issues with their well-based water supply found their water replenished thanks to the preserve. Formerly, the golf course was extracting 20 million gallons per year to water its grounds and this use of water was directly competing with nearby municipal water needs.

Website: http://owlt.org/visit-our-preserves/forest-beach-migratory-preserve

Originally Published: August 30, 2013

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