Whitefish Dunes News and Events

Friday, July 14
11 am—2:00 pm

Music, food, short program, artists, cake
Under a tent in the 2nd parking lot (rain or shine).
Park sticker required.
Music provided by: Last Man Standing
Participating artists: Lynn Gilchrist, Barbara Shakal and Mac Schubert

Volunteers needed. Call the Park: (920) 823-2400


Birds of Whitefish Dunes
Sunday, May 21
9 am—11 am
Hike leaders: Bill & Sarah Krouse
Meet at the Nature Center in the Park. Park sticker required. Bring binoculars if you have them.

A short presentation introduces you to birds and birding. Learn what two items are essential to any birder, and how to use them to identify birds. Examine the diverse habitats of the Park, and what clues habitat can give you to identify birds. Take a leisurely walk into the Park to look for birds, and try out what you have learned.
Sarah & Bill Krouse are amateur ornithologists (birders) who have been inspired to share nature by legendary environmentalists like Roy & Charlotte Lukes. Whitefish Dunes is so special to them that they had their wedding reception here.

Wildflowers of Whitefish Dunes
Saturday, June 10
10:00 am—noon
Hike leaders: Dale & Mary Goodner
Meet at the Nature Center in the Park. Park sticker required. 
Observe and identify wildflowers blooming in the Park.

Having grown up in NE Wisconsin both Dale and Mary share a passion for the local flora and fauna. Dale spent summers at his grandmother’s cottage right here in Whitefish Dunes. Their interest in nature took them to Peoria, Ill., where Dale served as chief naturalist for the Peoria Park District. Mary became a horticulturalist, and is currently promoting native landscaping. They returned to NE Wisconsin in 2010.

Trees of Whitefish Dunes
Saturday, July 15
10:30 am—noon
Hike leader: Don Gustafson
Meet at the Nature Center in the Park. Park sticker required. Identify and learn about the trees of Whitefish Dunes on a leisurely walk around the Park.

Don worked in Urban Forestry for 31 years in northern Illinois. His passion was the care and planting of native oak trees. He was a Certified Arborist from the International Society of Arboriculture and a member of the Illinois Arborist Association. Don has a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture from Western Illinois University.

Commercial Whitefish Fishing in Door County
Friday July 21
11 am—noon
Meet at the Nature Center auditorium. Park sticker required.

Dennis Hickey, from Hickey Brothers of Baileys Harbor, will have a video that he will show as he explains all aspects of their commercial fishing operation.

Insects of Whitefish Dunes
Thursday, July 27
10:00 am—noon
Hike leader: Dick Smythe
Meet at the Nature Center in the Park. Park sticker required.

The weather both before and during the walk as well as the environment will determine what you may find. Hope to find: butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, insect larvae; signs of insects: Ant lion depressions, galls, spittle etc.; and plant “bugs” of various kinds, perhaps a praying mantis. 

Dick started collecting feathers and insects and watching birds before entering kindergarten. In college he majored in biology, then in graduate school obtained a PhD in entomology. Dick spent his entire professional career in the research branch of the US Forest Service, and for nine years was a research entomologist studying subterranean termites. For the last 13 years he was Director of soils, atmospheric sciences, water, fish, and wildlife research.

Indian Tales and Trails
Wednesday, August 16
10:00 am—noon
Hike leader: Mike Madden
Meet at the Nature Center in the Park. Park sticker required.

Listen to a Native American story of how the Earth began. Hike trails used for thousands of years. Visit archeological indoor and outdoor exhibits that help explain past habitation at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

Educator and naturalist Mike Madden has enjoyed learning and sharing knowledge of “The People of The Dunes.” Mike and his wife, Barb, participated in one of archeological digs at Whitefish Dunes. For the past 20 years, Mike has helped maintain the Native American village exhibit in the Park.

Mushrooms of Whitefish Dunes
Saturday, September 2
9:30—11:30 am
Hike leader: Charlotte Lukes

Meet at the Nature Center in the Park. Park sticker required.

You’ll get a short introduction to mushrooms in the Nature Center and then go out on the trails to see what we can find. Charlotte will give basic information for field identification of the species seen.

Charlotte has been studying the mushrooms of Door County since 1972 and has identified about 575 species. She has presented slide programs, taught mushroom workshops and week-long classes and led many fungi forays in local state parks over the past 40 years.

**Thanks to the generosity of nearly 50 donors, the Park will have a part-time naturalist this summer. Call the Park for scheduled Naturalist activities/presentations: (920) 823-2400 or check the Park website: http://dnr.wi.gov/calendar/events/parks/index.asp**

Free Fun Weekend
Saturday & Sunday, June 3 & 4
Noon—8 pm
Free Fun Weekend in Wisconsin: No state park admission stickers or trail passes are required. Come and enjoy the beach or hike the trails to the top of the tallest sand dune on western Lake Michigan: Old Baldy.

Summer Candlelight Walk
Saturday, August 19
7:30—9:30 pm

Meet at the Nature Center in the Park. Park sticker required.
Take a summer evening stroll on a candle-lit path.
Stop into the Park Nature Center and purchase merchandise with a unique 50th Anniversary Park logo (beautifully designed by Friends member Mary Grace Quinlan): pins, patches, magnets, hiking stick medallions, t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats.
There is also a great selection of nature books for adults and children.
Purchases help support the Friends group projects.
Support our State Parks with the purchase of an annual Park sticker. Available at the Park. Daily passes are also available. Cash, check or credit card. $28 (Wisconsin License Plates). $13 (Wisconsin License Plates, seniors 65 years and older). $38 (Out-of-state License Plates).

Whitefish Dunes State Park Turns 50

The Whitefish Bay Association Newsletter, Winter 2017

“We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Anyone who lives in Whitefish Bay has noticed the many cars that pass through carrying summer vacationers to one of this great Peninsula’s treasures: Whitefish Dunes State Park.Let’s go back to 1937: this was the year that the noted landscape architect and conservationist Jens Jensen recommended Whitefish Dunes as a park site. The area was known to many for its scenic value, and as a unique, natural beauty that needed to be treasured and preserved. Unfortunately, it took thirty more years after Mr. Jensen called for the conservation of the park for it to become a reality.

In 1939, the State Conservation Commission (now known as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) accepted the recommendation that the Dunes be turned into a state park. Although the recommendation had been accepted, the Dunes were now up for consideration as a state botanical scientific area. In 1946, the State Planning Board again recommended 1,200 acres of land stretching from the Whitefish Bay Creek all the way to Cave Point be considered for a state park. While the state worked to determine the best use for the Dunes, local conservationist, and educator Carl Scholz, along with other community members, worked vigorously to save the Dunes from development.

As local Friends of Whitefish Dunes board member Dale Goodner stated, “the contradictory term ‘undeveloped’ is often applied (inappropriately) to such incredibly complex natural areas.” Whitefish Dunes is one of these rare areas that has essentially created, as Mr. Goodner put it, a time machine. Walking through the trails, there is an abundance of mixed woodland, creatures, and plant life so specific to the Door Peninsula that the community has an obligation to conserve, protect, and share the land in its integrity. Unfortunately, during this period of fighting for acquisition, not everyone saw the Dunes as worthy of protection. Controversy surrounding the entrance of the park, traffic concerns, along with the misconception that the park was being developed solely as a “money maker,” halted the park’s progress.

In 1965, a vote by the County Board deferred an acquisition proposal. In 1966, the acquisition proposal was denied again. Finally, in April of 1967 with the backing of strong community and county residents, along with the increased demand for public recreation, the proposed park received a referendum vote by 331 votes, and in June of 1967 the County board approved the park by 11-10 votes.

With donations of land from the Town of Sevastopol, and individual landowners in Whitefish Bay, the park met its goal of 821 acres to be securely protected and shared with the people of the Peninsula. The largest and most significant dunescape in Wisconsin has a long and controversial history. The efforts to keep the park running made by locals, tourists, and most importantly, by the Friends of Whitefish Dunes State Park, were critical. This continued effort is the reason why we are able to celebrate the park turning 50 this coming July.

Whitefish Dunes State Park is a slice of heaven to families and vacationers who seek out cool lake water in hot summers; to children fantasizing about the history of the shipwrecks in Lake Michigan; to hikers who want to experience an earlier time by visiting the re-creation of an original Native American settlement; and to locals who have embraced the park as a part of their community.

As it is only fitting to quote Theodore Roosevelt when citing conservation, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

Written by: Olivia Quinlan