Lion's Den Gorge

  The Lion’s Den Gorge Natural Area / Dhar Property is a high-quality, diverse, coastal ecosystem in the midst of urbanization. This 79-acre parcel of undeveloped Lake Michigan Shoreline property in the Town of Grafton, which contains a portion of the Lion’s Den Gorge Natural Area is in one of the fastest growing regions in the State. Ozaukee County and several public and private partners are interested in purchasing this land as a County park to protect the unique natural features and coastal resource, provide passive recreational uses, ensure outdoor and natural area educational opportunities, allow for scientific research, maintain wildlife, native vegetation, and ecological diversity, and preserve scenic vistas.

The Lion’s Den Gorge Natural Area / Dhar Property is located between Port Washington and Grafton, east of the intersection at County Highway “C” and Lake Shore Drive (See Map). The Dhar property represents the last stretch of private, undeveloped bluff land along the Lake Michigan shoreline, from Illinois up to areas well north of Ozaukee County.  Approximately 0.7 miles of 90 to 100 foot bluffs look out onto Lake Michigan, offering tremendous viewing opportunities for residents and visitors.

Natural Area: The northern part of the property contains part of a deep, coastal ravine called Lion’s Den Gorge. The Lion’s Den Gorge Natural Area is dominated by white cedar and hardwood forest, with a diverse, native herbaceous layer, including a few northern relics. Numerous springs along the ravine walls contribute to an intermittent stream flowing through the Gorge and into Lake Michigan. This natural area is recommended for protection according to “The Regional Natural Areas and Critical Species Habitat Protection and Management Plan for Southeastern Wisconsin” prepared by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and adopted by the Ozaukee County Board of Supervisors on June 3, 1998. The bluffs and gorge walls offer an excellent “outdoor laboratory” to learn about the unique geological history and conditions of Southeastern Wisconsin.

Shoreline/Upland Area: The upland areas of the property along the bluff are a diverse mixture of grassland, wet meadows, woodland, wetland, and bluff areas. These areas provide diverse habitats for native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees that are useful for all types of wildlife, such as migratory birds, game birds and waterfowl, amphibians, and mammals. The wet meadow ponds and wooded wetlands, as well as the Lion’s Den Gorge, provide critical habitat for breeding populations of amphibians. Many frog and salamander species are in decline in Southeastern Wisconsin due to a lack of quality habitat caused by the pressures of land use and urbanization. Maintaining the natural integrity of this property, along with the adjoining 44-acre Waterfowl Production Area parcel to the west, owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, will help stabilize or improve the wildlife diversity.

 

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