Friends of Toft Point
MISSION STATEMENT : to support the management plan of the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, to help preserve the flora and fauna of this property and to help educate visitors about the natural history and the Toft family history of this State Natural Area and National Natural Landmark.
Old growth forest at Toft Point. Photo by Roy Lukes
The original 325 acre Toft Point property along Lake Michigan northeast of the village of Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, was sold by the Thomas Toft family to The Nature Conservancy in 1967. The deed was then turned over to the Regents of The University of Wisconsin and management responsibilities were given to the Green Bay campus. Additional acreage to the south, the Lighthouse Point area, was purchased in 1976 by The Nature Conservancy and added to the Toft Point property. Today this 743 acre preserve is a State Natural Area and a part of the large Ridges Sanctuary-Mud Lake Wildlife Area-Toft Point National Natural Landmark.
The friends group originated in the late 1990s when Bonnie Burnham and several volunteers began refurbishing the log cabins in the late 1990’s. They re-roofed and repaired the structures with materials provided by UWGB and a local man, Harry Wehling. She suggested we form a Friends group to oversee Toft Point activities and help keep the area safe, natural and protected. The university was 65 miles away and faced budget cuts which did not allow staff to spend much time at Toft Point. For a few years some cabins were used by graduate students doing research projects, but now all the buildings at Toft Point are considered historical structures and are no longer occupied.
A steering committee was formed and a meeting was held on April 19, 2000 at the home of Roy & Charlotte Lukes. Attendees besides the Lukes’ were Bonnie Burnham, Bob Davis, Warren DeWalt, Gary Fewless, John Turner and Marsha Wilson. They discussed the purpose of this group and set goals. The first general meeting for all people interested in participating was held on August 21, 2000 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Baileys Harbor. Twenty-four people attended and a Board of Directors was elected. Officers were Roy Lukes, president, Lyle McGinnis, vice-president, Charlotte Lukes, secretary and Judy Turner, treasurer. Carl Scholz and Marsha Wilson were the other board members. Bonnie Burnham joined the board in January 2001.
By the end of 2001 the group had 192 members and the board was expanded to nine members each with a three-year term. Since that time the membership has increased to over 250 members including almost 100 lifetime members.
Toft Friends on a members hike. Photo by Roy Lukes
- Volunteer Trail docents walk the main road and educate visitors to the unique qualities of Toft Point and make sure courtesy rules and guidelines were followed for this State Natural Area.
- Invasive plant removal is ongoing and includes pulling and treatment with herbicides.
- Maintenance of trails and removal of branches and fallen trees.
- Publication of bi-annual newsletters that inform members of group's activities
- Collection of information on Door County's Champion Trees
- Bonnie Burnham and several volunteers began refurbishing the log cabins in the late 1990’s. They re-roofed and repaired the structures with materials provided by UWGB and a local man, Harry Wehling.
- John & Judy Turner built a kiosk and set it at the main gate in 2002.
- Invasive plant removal was begun by volunteer members.
- Dave Nevelainen, Toft Friends life member, built and installed a bike rack near the main gate.
- Dolomite marker and a bronze plaque commemorating the Toft family for their farsighted preservation efforts over the course of many years at Toft Point. Richard Boockmeier of Portage, WI, donated the plaque and installed it securely onto the stone. Many members of the Toft family attended the memorial dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 18, 2005.
- Two wooden benches of white pine were constructed by Jim Jauquet of the Ridges Sanctuary Wednesday work crew and donated to Toft Point to be placed near the new monument in 2005
- In 2007 the Friends of Toft Point became incorporated through the efforts of Charlotte Lukes and treasurer, Nancy Rafal and became registered as a 501c3 non-profit organization.
- Establishment of the Operating Endowment fund which is made up of all Life Membership income and an Invasive Species Endowment to help fund the eradication of the many exotic plant species entering northeast Wisconsin and Toft Point in 2009
- Establishment of an endowment in support of student research at Toft Point in 2010
Board of Directors
- Nick Anderson, President
- Jim Jennings, Vice-president
- Liz Wallner, Secretary
- Nancy Rafal, Treasurer
- Bill Johnson
- Charlotte Lukes
- Marc Savard
- Tom Turriff
- Joe Wallner