Land Conservancy of West Michigan expands Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve
Thanks to the community’s generous support, the 43 acres adjacent to the preserve are protected forever and open to the public.
The Land Conservancy of West Michigan announced it has finalized its purchase of 43 acres of forested backdune habitat adjacent to Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve.
The addition, named the Huston-Rausch-Paprocki Reserve, is now a part of the nature preserve and open for gentle recreation and nature education. Under the Land Conservancy’s ownership, the natural landscape will be managed to uphold its ecological integrity.
The project was made possible by donors who raised $200,000 to fund the land trust’s purchase and management of the formerly private property. The project has more than doubled the size of Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve, which now protects 74 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline habitat.
“The addition of this beautiful forest to Flower Creek Dunes has protected an indispensable natural connection that will support the plants, birds, insects and wildlife that depend on lakeshore habitat,” said Kim Karn, executive director of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. “We could not have done it without the generous support of a community who cares deeply about protecting West Michigan’s special natural areas.”
The forest was previously owned by Douglas Paprocki, who purchased the land with his late wife Gretchen in 1994. The couple cherished the landscape’s rugged character and worked with the Land Conservancy then to protect the private property with a conservation easement. Paprocki’s sale of the property to the Land Conservancy is a final gesture to ensure the landscape continues to enjoy the best care and management.
“Doug and Gretchen Paprocki have been diligent stewards of this landscape for over two decades. We are grateful for the opportunity to carry their incredible legacy forward,” Karn said.
Lake Michigan shoreline is high in demand for development, but its globally rare freshwater dunes host unique and imperiled plant and wildlife species. The Huston-Rausch-Paprocki Reserve protects a mature hardwood forest near the lakeshore that migrating animals like butterflies, hawks and songbirds depend on for food and shelter as they travel along the windy coast of Lake Michigan.
The acquisition supports many of the goals outlined by the Land Conservancy’s Strategic Conservation Plan, including creating a significant patch of healthy habitat on the lakeshore. Together with Meinert County Park and Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve, the addition creates a total of 255 acres of connected, permanently protected natural land on the Lake Michigan shoreline.
“The protection of this property, with its biodiversity and varied topography, will help the landscape withstand and recover from the effects of climate change and other disturbances,” said April Scholtz, land protection director at the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. “It’s a great achievement for the region’s plants, birds and wildlife, not to mention the humans who will get to explore and enjoy this beautiful natural area.”
More information about Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve and the Huston-Rausch-Paprocki Reserve can be found online.