Click here for a printable version of the table below: History of the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.



1929 City Of Green Bay purchased 250 Acres adjacent to the Bay Beach Amusement Park with the intent of building a golf course.
1935 Concerned citizens led by Chester Cole & Lyle Kingston developed the concept of a wildlife refuge with guidance from Aldo Leopold.
  • City Park Board granted 5 acres to use for waterfowl. Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary was incorporated, offering 50¢ memberships to raise funds.
  • The first pond was hand dug and stocked with injured waterfowl.
  • Sanctuary wins national award/trophy for this effort 1937.
1938-1941 With heavy equipment donations from Shuster’s Construction and the County the National Youth Administration and Work Project Administration 100 men worked 2 years digging more ponds, completing the present lagoon system of 55 acres, landscaped the islands and planted trees and shrubs.
1938 Louis Barkhausen donated 6 Canada geese, which are the ancestors of our present goose flock.
  • First goslings hatch.
  • City Park Recreation & Forestry Department takes over operation of the Sanctuary and Park Board names it the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • 3,000 ducks & geese winter at the refuge.
  • Support funds are raised from corn sales (10¢ per bag) and concessions.
1965 First goose banding operation begins. (To date Sanctuary’s banding program over 28 years of data collection rates this project as the longest running of banding program in the state).
1970 City hires the first college trained professional Sanctuary Manager.
1971 Redredging of main Feeding Lagoon – funded by partnership of college student button sales and local industry.
1973 Sanctuary is inundated with 4 feet of flood water from the Bay.
  • Observation building size is doubled with help of the Marine Corps Reserves to accommodate expanding environmental education program.
  • Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary, non-profit support group is incorporated.
  • Sanctuary’s Master Plan Phase I is completed (Coastal Zone Grant).
  • Sanctuary’s acreage is doubled with 300 acres of purchased and donated land east of Danz Ave.
1981 Sanctuary’s Master Plan Phase II is completed for the new acreage (Coastal Zone Grant).
1982 HUD Grant funds “Web of Life” Accessible Trail & Water Fall.
1983 Sanctuary’s Communication Plan through a Coastal Zone Management Grant is completed (plan details how to tell Sanctuary Story to the 59 target groups identified).
1985 Nature Education Center opens in September, largest center of its kind built entirely by private funds raised by the Friends = $1.7 million.
1986 Equipping & furnishing of the Nature Center.
1987 Construction of Bald Eagle, Caracara & Redtail Hawk aviary exhibits.
1988 Construction of vulture & coyote habitat exhibits.
1989 Construction of waterfowl habitat exhibit.
  • Addition of a full-time Ranger Technician.
  • Establishing the Woodland Community Memorial Grove – planting of trees & shrubs to both commemorate individuals and landscape the Woodland Community area with native plant material.
  • Dedication of the White-tailed Deer Habitat exhibit.
  • Construction of main entrance archway, Wildlife Habi-Trek archway and directional sign pod.
  • Acquisition of 11 acres of land completing geographical integrity of the Sanctuary boundaries and trail extension to connect with the UWGB Arboretum (Stewardship Grant of $116,000 matched by Friends and City).
  • Dedication of Habitat & Succession exhibit with Peter Gros from Wild Kingdom assisting in the public dedication ceremony.
  • Dedication of Kingdom Corner, & Wildlife Observation Platform exhibits in the nature center with Brian Noble – Green Bay Packer.
  • Addition of 2nd & 3rd deck levels to Deer Habitat Tower = 33′ high.
  • Addition of Deer Habitat Eco-Learning Station platform & trellis.
  • Construction of Woodland Building, a 6,000 sq. ft., Friends funded project for native Wisconsin woodland animals, with 1 acre wolf habitat.
  • Construction of nocturnal animal exhibits in Woodland Building and door entranceway log canopies.
  • Received National Science Foundation Grant of $165,159 for national model program development entitled, “Communities and Connections in the World of Nature”.
  • Received Wisconsin Environmental Education Board Matching Grant of $4,330 to redo the Web of Life Trail Station – interactive.
  • Received City bond issue of $250,000 to replace 3 small buildings in Feeding Lagoon area with one new Observation/Rehabilitation structure.
  • 60th Anniversary – 60 years of growth and progressive Environmental Education development.
  • Ground breaking on new Observation/Rehabilitation Building.
  • Completion of Woodland Building.
  • Outdoor Exhibits for Otter, Fisher, Raccoon, Grey Fox and Cougar with viewing kiosks.
  • Completion of Woodland Building indoor interpretive graphics.
  • Construction of Eagle Aviary and “Raptor Trail” with 14 bird of prey exhibits (hawks, owls, falcons) and Raptor Theater.
  • Addition of full-time Naturalist.
  • Dedication of Waterfowl Exhibit.
  • Completion of Coyote Habitat.
  • Construction of Butterfly Atrium.
  • Construction of Maintenance/Operation Building begins.
  • Reconstruction of Amphitheater seating.
  • Friends purchase Wildlife Wagon.
1999 “Wildlife World” construction
2000 Resch Conservation Wing
  • “Critter Encounter” Pods
  • Floating Boardwalk
  • “Habitat Hollow” – Tree
  • Greenhouse Remodel
  • Website
  • Endowment
  • Log Home
  • Resch Wing Graphics
  • Habitat House
  • Honey Bee Exhibit
  • Whirlygig Pond Deck
  • Nature Center Canopy
  • Burrow Exhibit
  • Hawk Exhibits
  • Flight Pavilion
  • Maintenance Bldg. II
  • Wildlife Wagon & Wildlife Mural
  • Lagoon Restoration Dredging
  • Lagoon Restoration – Aeration & Well Drilling & Interpretive Gazebo
  • Manger Lagoon “Springs Wings” – Bird Festival Art Show
2008-2010 Resch Waterfalls construction with Kress Nature Trail
2011 75th Anniversary – “Soaring Forward With The Wildlife Sanctuary”

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