Located just outside of Lowell, adjacent to Lowell High School and the Wittenbach/Wege Environmental Center, this preserve is often used as an outdoor classroom by Lowell-area students and nature enthusiasts. Hiking trails wind through mixed hardwood forests, cross over a trout stream, and wander through old farm pastures.Read More
At a Glance
- Approximate Street Address: 12598 36th Street, Lowell, MI
- Located near Lowell, the B.D. White Nature Preserve is a natural landscape legacy. With rolling terrain, a cold water stream, and a meandering trail, the preserve provides habitat for a multitude of wildlife and serves as a natural area for people to enjoy and learn.
- Trail length: 0.7 miles
- Before you visit, check out our preserve guidelines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
What to See
The trail leads hikers through tall stands of pine and majestic oak-hickory forests, providing panoramic glimpses of the wetland below. Though it’s close to Lowell, visitors often comment on the solitude and wilderness feel of the preserve.
B.D. White Nature Preserve protects high-quality natural land in an area dominated by agricultural and suburban land uses. The north end of the preserve contains remnants of oak barrens vegetation–vestiges of one of Michigan’s rarest ecosystem types. The shrub-carr wetland on the preserve is one of the area’s most diverse, supporting more than 130 native plant species. The preserve also contributes to water quality improvement by protecting wetlands along a half-mile stretch of a cold water tributary to the Grand River.
The Land Conservancy is beginning a long-term project to restore the oak barrens remnants in the northern portion of the preserve – and to improve the health of the oak-hickory forest elsewhere. Management practices include selective forest thinning, prescribed burning, and invasive species removal.
Like most areas in West Michigan, the land that is now the preserve was logged by the late 1800s. By the late 1930s, young trees had grown back to cover the northern portion of the property, while the southern part remained cleared. In 1940, the land was purchased by a Grand Rapids lawyer, who planted pines to stabilize the soil and a victory garden to hedge against food shortages during World War II.
In time, the property transferred to his son, Bradford (Brad) White, and Brad’s wife, Evangeline (Van). Brad and Van, their children, and grandchildren continued to enjoy the property. They fished for trout in the stream and picnicked on its banks. The children enjoyed trimming the trails and building bridges over the stream with downed logs.
Over the years, Brad received many inquiries from local developers who were interested in purchasing his property. But he had hopes of keeping the property natural for the enjoyment of future generations, so he always turned them down.
When Brad passed away in 2003, Van decided to create a legacy out of Brad’s love for the family property. In 2005, she donated 45 acres of the land to the Land Conservancy to create a nature preserve in his name.
A small parking area is located off of 36th Street, about a quarter-mile east of Alden Nash. You can also park along Alden Nash at the north end of the preserve. At both entrances, look for the preserve sign.