Land Conservancy of West Michigan announces campaign to protect 300 acres of natural land in Pere Marquette Watershed
With frontage on two tributaries of the Pere Marquette River, the new McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve will offer a destination for explorers to hike, fish, birdwatch, and more.
The Land Conservancy of West Michigan is seeking public support to protect 300 acres of natural land in Newaygo County and create McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve. The non-profit land trust has launched a public campaign to fund its protection.
“McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve is a beautiful landscape that is home to many high-quality natural features in need of protection, as well as degraded habitat in need of restoration,” said LCWM Executive Director Kim Karn. “Under the Land Conservancy’s protection, its care will be guaranteed.”
Located just a few miles east of M-37 and south of Baldwin, the property includes a 3,500-feet stretch of the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River and over 3,200 feet of frontage on both sides of McDuffee Creek. Both the Little South Branch and McDuffee Creek are designated Natural Rivers in Michigan. Wetland areas flank the waterways. The property contains an old field that holds potential to be restored to oak savanna, which would reintroduce a rare habitat and biodiversity to an area that has long been deprived of it.
The property connects to U.S. Forest Service land on its south and east borders, creating a natural greenway in a patchwork of protected forest. Connected protected land ensures plants and wildlife can more easily move and adapt as conditions change. McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve is also located just three miles south of Upriver Nature Preserve, a 150-acre property that was donated to the Land Conservancy in 2022, and seven miles north of LCWM’s Richmond Woods Nature Preserve.
“Protecting land along the shores of high-quality waterways like McDuffee Creek and the Little South Branch and in close proximity to other protected land is part of the Land Conservancy’s strategy to optimize our conservation efforts,” said LCWM Conservation Director Justin Heslinga. “These attributes go a long way towards supporting the health and resilience of West Michigan’s natural areas.”
The landowner has generously donated a portion of the property’s purchase price towards its transformation into a public nature preserve, and several donors have supported the Land Conservancy’s acquisition of the property. The project is made possible with support from the Carls Foundation, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, Ducks Unlimited, the Fremont Area Community Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Land Conservancy must raise approximately $250,000 more to cover the purchase of the property, the costs of establishing public access features, and the creation of a fund to support the maintenance and restoration of the property into the future. The Carls Foundation is generously matching early donations to the fundraising campaign made by West Michigan residents. Those interested in supporting the preserve can make a gift on the Land Conservancy’s website at naturenearby.org/mcnp.
The Land Conservancy is hosting events this spring to introduce the public to the new preserve. Those interested are asked to register to attend at naturenearby.org/events.
- Second Saturday Workday, Saturday, April 8, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Join LCWM to help make McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve a welcoming place for birds, wildlife, plants, and humans alike! Volunteers are invited to help prepare the preserve for public use.
- Diving into Vernal Pools at McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve, Saturday, April 29, 1-3 p.m. Join LCWM along with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory and the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership to explore a vernal pool at the new preserve! These unique habitats feature a variety of special creatures. Learn all about vernal pools and how these organizations collaborate to protect them.