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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 12,000 acres across 5 natural areas located in Brown, Door, and Manitowoc Counties.

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.

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

We welcome non-destructive research that contributes to improved knowledge and management of our natural areas. Anyone wishing to conduct research in our natural areas should contact Josh Martinez and complete an online permit application form.

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