Stand on the overlook at Wequiock Falls north of Green Bay and you will see a fence loaded with padlocks, some inscribed with initials.
An international craze called “love locks” has found this remote Brown County Park along Highway 57. Lovers have clipped the locks on the chain link fence as testimony to the permanence of their relationships. You might not find a majority of marriage counselors willing to agree this is the path to a forever love, but work the Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust is doing here has a lock on making a difference in perpetuity.
Thanks in part to a $155,000 grant from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Fund within the Community Foundation, NEWLT and several partners will spend years restoring the natural landscape at Wequiock and down below the Bay Settlement escarpment adjacent to a peninsula of rare coastal wetlands called Point au Sable.
NEWLT has acquired all but two of 72 acres needed for the project, Executive Director Deborah Nett said, and should close on the last small strip by early October. Other funders include the state Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Coastal Grant, the 1923 Fund and Natural Resource Damage Assessment Funds from the PCB cleanup of the Fox River.
NEWLT – working with UW-Green Bay, the Wisconsin DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Brown County and the Town of Scott – will restore the area around Wequiock to oak savanna, a mix of woods and prairie that is Wisconsin’s most threatened type of landscape.
In all, the project cost is estimated at $1.1 million. The resulting nature preserve will be open to the public and serve as a classroom for area college and high school students, as well as children attending nearby Wequiock Elementary School.
Who were the Nelsons? Learn more about the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund and find out more about this couple here.