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Paul Sager Tract.
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

The Paul Sager Tract

The Paul Sager Tract includes 19.99 acres located in the far northwestern section of the Arboretum. The Sager tract includes 2 ponds and associated wetlands and there are several small natural springs on the slopes. Footpaths provide access to the site and there are excellent views of the campus from the higher portions as the tract meets the forest along the Niagara Escarpment to the east. Most of the rest of the parcel is in the process of being converted to forest. It is bordered on three sides by existing Arboretum communities, including pine plantings and wetlands to the west.

History

The tract was previously owned by Bob Schott, a former Supervisor of Custodial Services at UW-Green Bay. Bob and his wife still reside near the Cofrin ArboretumThe property was purchased from the Schotts by The Nature Conservancy on 22 December, 1994, with funding from donations by Dr. David A. Cofrin and the AEC Trust and with a matching grant from the Wisconsin Stewardship Program, administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The grant designated the tract as a Habitat Restoration Area. The title was transferred from The Nature Conservancy to the University of Wisconsin on 11 January 1996.

Discussions about sale of this property began in the late 1970’s and involved campus leaders like founding Chancellor Edward Weidner, Lyle Bruss, Les Raduenz, Tom Maki, and others. In a memo to Paul Sager dated September 8, 1994, Lyle Bruss ended with these words: “It is difficult to believe that after discussing this land purchase with Bob Schott for more than 15 years, it will now become a reality.”

The site is named for UWGB professor Dr. Paul Sager who worked with the Schott's and The Nature Conservancy to preserve this area as part of the Cofrin Arboretum. Now professor emeritus, Dr. Sager has been and continues to be an important researcher in the aquatic ecology of northeastern Wisconsin. He pioneered PCB related research with Dr. Bud Harris on the Bay of Green Bay and contributed to the improvement of water quality in the Great Lakes.

Ecology

Great Blue Heron in Sager Tract wetland.The tract is ecologically strategic because it preserves the immediate drainage from a portion of the Niagara Escarpment and a major portion of the headwaters of Ledge Creek, which eventually flows into Green Bay through the Cofrin Arboretum. Several groundwater seeps from the escarpment provide drainage into the wetlands. Three small watercourses flow across the surface and eventually contribute to the Ledge Creek watershed. Two ponds on the property have been deepened to provide wildlife habitat.

Other plantings and natural re-vegetation have helped maintain the uplands as “old field” habitat, a successional stage which will eventually lead to woodland. Sometime during the late 21st Century, the area will become a hardwood forest, similar to its conditions when Europeans settled here in the 1800’s. At that time, the name “Paul Sager Tract” will be changed to “Paul Sager Woods.”

Dr. Paul E. Sager

Paul Sager.Paul Sager is a native of Northeast Wisconsin who has dedicated his life to the preservation of natural areas and the protection of water quality in the Green Bay watershed. He grew up in Kaukauna and went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, studying zoology, limnology and ecology. He began teaching in 1967 as one of the founding faculty members of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay where he remained until his retirement in 2000. Since then he has remained active in research as professor emeritus of biology.

Always a believer in holistic solutions to complicated ecological problems; he was a leader in helping the new UW-Green Bay achieve international distinction with its interdisciplinary focus and ahead-of-its-time Environmental Sciences program. As a dedicated teacher and mentor, he involved undergraduate and graduate students in nationally funded research on the ecology of light and nutrients on algal growth in the bay of Green Bay. His research and that of his students has resulted in numerous scientific articles. He has held many administrative and advisory positions with the university and state and other organizations. He has also received awards for his teaching and research including the Barbara Hauxhurst Cofrin Professorship in Natural Sciences, 1986-1991, Founders Association Award for Institutional Development, 1993, Founders Association Award for Scholarship, 1978, UW System representative, DNR Natural Areas Preservation Council

In 1989 he became director of UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Memorial Arboretum. Under his leadership, the Arboretum saw significant growth with new plantings, further restoration of wetlands and ponds, and University acquisition of properties including the 20-acre Schott Property (now the Paul Sager Tract), land atop the Niagara Escarpment, the Kingfisher Farm natural area in Manitowoc County, and the Point Sable property north of campus. Additional improvements took place in the management of UWGB natural areas at Toft Point and the Peninsula Center sanctuary in Door County.