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Kingfisher Farm buildings and orchard.
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

UW--Green Bay Natural Areas

The Cofrin Center for Biodiversity manages over 1600 acres across 5 natural areas located in Brown, Door, and Manitowoc Counties.

Apply for Research Permit

Our Natural Areas program began in 1971 when UW Green Bay faculty and staff recommended the development of a park-like arboretum and trail system around the periphery of campus. In 1975 the children and grandchildren of Dr. Austin Cofrin Austin Cofrin created an endowment in Austin Cofrin's memory that allowed the university to develop a system of trails, plantings, purchase additional property, and to continue to improve the botanical offerings of the arboretum. At the time their generous gift was made, the donation from the Cofrin children was the largest donation ever given to a University of Wisconsin institution outside of the Madison campus.

UW Green Bay aquired its first off-campus natural area property in 1968 when conservationist Emma Toft donated her family lake-front property, Toft Point, to The Nature Conservancy who then turned the property over to UW Green Bay. Since then, UW Green Bay aquired and additional 3 properties and extensive additions to the original arboretum property as gifts or by purchase. Each property features at least one unique natural community, including hardwood and conifer forest, inland or shorelines, dune ridge and swale, Lake Michigan cobble and dune shoreline, prairie, oak savanna, and Niagara escarpment .

Our natural areas and an associated granting program provide an outstanding educational and scientific opportunity as "living laboratories" where our students and faculty can conduct original ecological and policy based research.

The natural areas are supervised by Ecologist Bobbie Webster. If you have questions or suggestions please contact her at

If you have a natural history or phenological observation please send it to

What is a Natural Area?

What is a Natural Area? The designation of natural area is given to protected lands that are set aside as an important example of a unique or rare landscape feature. They may contain unique or important examples of plant or animal communities, geology, or sometimes archeological sites and are managed specifically to protect these features.

Habitat destruction is one of the greatest causes of the continuing loss of global biodiversity. Today, virtually no area has escaped modification by humans, and most of the original forest vegetation has been completely replaced by farmland, cities, and suburbs. Natural Areas are those areas that remain as valuable habitat that provide refuges for our native flora and fauna.

Some natural areas are relatively pristine examples of the area's native landscapes, providing examples of unique geological formation or harboring rare and endangered species. These areas, including the UW Green Bay Natural Areas are valuable for research and educational use, the preservation of genetic and biological diversity, and for providing benchmarks for determining the impact of use on managed lands. Although the Cofrin Arboretum and Toft Point have some trails, they are not intended for intensive recreation.

Access and Hunting

Most of our natural areas are open to the public, but not all are easily accessible. We ask that you respect our neighnbor's properties and especially remain vigilent as you enjoy these unique areas. Do not remove anything from these areas and please stay on the trails. Dogs, horses, and vehicles of any kind are not permitted in the natural areas. Hunting is allowed with permission on some properties. Contact Dr. Robert Howe for more information.

Research Permits

The Cofrin Arboretum and the other UWGB natural areas were established to protect the unique flora, fauna, and ecosysytems in northeastern Wisconsin and to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for students, faculty, and the community. The natural areas also serve as a “living lab” for student and faculty research and other educational activities. However, there are restrictions on the types of activities and research that can occur. And all activities must be conducted in a way that minimizes impacts to the ecosystem.

For permission to conduct multi-investigator, individual, and/or class research projects, please complete this form for approval from the Director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity (CCB) (Dr. Robert Howe). Upon signing the research permit, as the researcher, you agree to provide a summary of research findings to the CCB Data Manager (Erin Giese) for archiving and possible use in future land management decisions. In addition, you are expected to remove all materials from the Arboretum that were used for your work at the completion of the project. Do not begin your project until this form has been completed and you have received permission to continue from the Director. You will receive a confirmation email and a decision will be made regarding your request within 2 weeks.

If you have questions about research permits or conducting research on our natural areas please contact the biodiversity center (

Director of the Cofrin Arboretum: Dr. Robert Howe (

Natural Areas Coordinator: Bobbie Webster( is responsible for the land management and assisting with student research on the campus arboretum and university owned natural areas.

Data Manager: Erin Giese ( Oversees data collection and archiving of research conducted on the campus arboretum and university owned natural areas

As Emma Toft reminds us, "Touch as much as you wish with your eyes, but do not see with your fingers."