Research has been a critical component to The Ridges Mission since its founding in 1937. In 1933, Ridges founding member Albert Fuller became curator of botany at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Hard hit by the Depression, the museum canceled lecture programs, field research and museum publications. Using an infusion of federal funds, Fuller began designing ecological exhibits in the hopes that the dioramas would nurture conservation efforts. He also conducted field work, collecting specimens to add to the growing Herbarium at the museum.
It was Fuller’s inspirational presentations which sparked a grass roots movement throughout Baileys Harbor and the greater Door County community to protect the original 40 acres. Once the land was protected, these individuals and others formed The Ridges Sanctuary organization to continue this conservation movement of land protection, research and education under the banner of the original mission statement adopted on October 4, 1937:
“ To acquire by gift, purchase or otherwise, part or all of the real estate in the area in the town of Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin known as ‘ The Ridges’ or ‘The Bog’ . . . To acquire and hold other pieces of real estate in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and to protect and preserve the native plant and animal life found thereon. To carry on educational and scientific activities which will promote the cause of conservation and preservation . . .”
Several research initiatives have been conducted throughout the eight decades since The Ridges was founded.