Our Impact in 2023

Our Impact in 2023

Every year, with the vital support of our communities, we make impressive progress toward our vision of a West Michigan with natural areas preserved for future generations. Last year was no exception, and we want to highlight some of the notable achievements we reached together!

490 acres of natural land protected

We added two new nature preserves to our roster last year, protecting a total of 360 acres of publicly accessible natural land in West Michigan. We closed on McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve in Newaygo County in early 2023. Later in the year, a generous donor made the gift of Dumaw Woodland Nature Preserve, located in Oceana County. You can read more about both of these preserves in the pages of this newsletter. We also added 130 acres of private land protected by conservation easements in 2023. All of this land is added to our annual monitoring responsibilities so we can ensure its ongoing health and protection.

Restoration in action

Restoring health to degraded natural lands is another way the Land Conservancy works to keep nature nearby. This important work takes place through annual activities like prescribed burning and invasive species removal, as well as through larger scale projects. Last year we worked on several exciting restoration projects. We began work to restore oak savanna habitat and added debris to the creek to improve trout habitat at McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve. We transformed an old dump at The Highlands into a functional wetland. And toward the end of the year, we removed a conifer plantation and three acres of invasive shrubs at Wege Foundation Natural Area to extend and connect oak forest habitat. 

Building community

People like you make the mission of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan possible. We’re grateful to be part of such an energetic community of conservationists. In 2023, we continued to create opportunities to connect our communities with the natural areas we’ve protected together. Over 300 volunteers contributed to the care of our 20 nature preserves. Nearly 900 people made a donation to support our mission, and nearly 100 of them did so for the first time. We were also grateful to host a series of educational events at the natural areas we’ve helped protect with the help of many great docents. As part of our commitment to ensure the mission and work of the Land Conservancy are within reach for all people in our service area, we completed a justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion assessment with the help of Inclusive Performance Strategies. We look forward to continuing to grow to make the work of conservation more inclusive and welcoming for all people.

Making room for growth

As the amount of natural land under our care grows, so have our needs for space and equipment. Last year, we were able to make strides in improving our capacity to care for our natural lands. We added two new vehicles to our fleet and moved our stewardship team into an improved work and storage space. We are grateful to the generous grantors and supporters who made these needed upgrades possible. We are better equipped to help people protect, enjoy, and care for nature because of their support!

Planning for what’s next

As we chart our course for the next few years, we must ensure it aligns with our conservation priorities, the needs of the communities we serve, and our big vision for the future. The staff and board of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan embarked on a close look at its mission, vision, and values in spring 2024. In fall of this year, we will enter a strategic planning session to identify priorities for the organization in the coming years. Stay tuned to learn more!

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan is supported by a generous community of conservationists who make annual gifts towards the permanent protection of local natural land. Make a gift and help keep nature nearby for future generations at naturenearby.org/donate.

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