What is an Estuary?
An estuary is an area in which river water mixes with water from a large lake or an ocean.
As a spawning habitat and source of organic material, productive estuaries are vital to the Lake Michigan ecosystem. But they are fragile. Most estuaries along the Great Lakes have been destroyed because they cannot easily share precious shoreline with commercial and residential development.
Why You Should Visit
Waters from the Mink River and Lake Michigan combine to form this freshwater estuary. The visitor will enjoy a habitat almost identical to that witnessed by the Potawatomi Indians, who lived here more than 100 years ago.
A leisurely canoe trip from Rowley's Bay to the spring-fed headwaters of the Mink River provides a great opportunity for bird watching.
Why The Nature Conservancy Selected This Site
Mink River Estuary is a Great Lakes estuary with regionally important natural values. As a Great Lakes coastal wetland and forest landscape, it provides habitat for a number of important plants and animals including Great Lakes fish, many species of migratory and breeding birds, and many mammals representative of a northern Wisconsin mixed conifer hardwood forest.
Mink River Estuary is one of four preserves owned and managed by TNC in Door County that is home to the rare Hine's emerald dragonfly. Door County hosts the greatest abundance of this federally-endangered dragonfly in the world, and TNC is working with scientists and other partners to learn more about the dragonfly and protect its habitat.
What TNC Has Done/Is Doing
TNC has protected a total 2,165 acres at Mink River Estuary. This figure includes lands owned and managed by TNC, conservation easements, government co-ops and assists.
Despite development and use, careful local conservation has helped protect the freshwater estuary in much the same condition as when it was inhabited by the Potawotami Indians more than a century ago.