OWLT's Move from Birdies to Birds
Updated: Feb 28
Posted February 2023
A Hole-in-One at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve
It is a bit ironic that a golf course has been transformed into a migratory bird sanctuary. The number of golf terms that relate to the landscape and birds themselves makes the transition a bit poetic. The land simply now offers a home to birds in lieu of birdies, to our friends of flight rather than flyers, to waterfowl and ducks not simply duck hooks, and obviously and hopefully to eagles, rather than, well eagles (golf eagles that is).
The story of Forest Beach Migratory Preserve involves a rich and extensive history that is well known in Ozaukee County. From 1946 to 1972, the golf course and restaurant was home to the St. Peter’s family and their business, The Port Washington Country Club. After the family sold the property, it was named Squire’s Country Club and continued to operate as an 18-hole golf course until 2008.
With the assistance of funds from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund and private donations, including support from the Uihlein family, Ozaukee Washington Land Trust was able to acquire the land. Over the last 15 years, OWLT has spent numerous hours and funds to transform the 116 acres on Lake Michigan into a diverse migratory preserve.
After the addition of twenty new ponds and the conservation of hardwood and conifer forest trees, the heavily-watered golf course quickly became home to over 300 species of birds. Where golf carts once cruised fertilized lawn, wildlife now soars over prairie grasses, shrublands and wetlands. Where restaurants used to serve club members, observation decks and bird blinds now provide resting locations to gaze upon the nesting and feeding spots for migratory birds. With over four miles of hiking trails the nature preserve is free and open for all to enjoy native species of wildlife and plant life.
Written by: By Leona S. Knobloch and Adrielle Nelson
Forest Beach Migratory Preserve is a prime example of OWLT's efforts throughout the years to achieve the organization's mission. In this OWLT continues to work to implement Climate Resiliency measures through the Land Protection and Stewardship that makes Land Conservation impactful!
OWLT is utilizing the Climate Resiliency Evaluation to implement the Climate Resiliency Project. This ongoing project incorporates multiple focused conservation efforts on several of the OWLT preserves.
Throughout the 2023 year, we will be reporting the status of the project to our partners, funding sources, and the OWLT community. Please stay tuned via OWLT communications on the progress of our efforts and to learn how you can help support this project by volunteering, engaging, and donating.
OWLT is pleased to have worked with key consultants and funding sources to work on this project. This includes Conservation Strategies Group and Habitat Restoration Partners. This article is funded in part by Land Trust Alliance, Fund for Lake Michigan, the Wisconsin Department of Administration, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the terms and conditions of this Agreement.