At a Glance
- Approximate Street Address: 10450 Summit Ave., Rockford, MI
- Located in Rockford, the Maas Family Preserve is home to a remnant oak-pine barrens ecosystem – a unique savanna community that supports the endangered Karner blue butterfly. The preserve is a popular stop-off point for users of the White Pine Trail, particularly in May and June when the purple lupine is in full bloom.
- Trail length: 0.5 miles
- Before you visit, check out our preserve guidelines. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
Parking is available along Summit Avenue near the preserve sign on the west end of the preserve. Parallel parking only. Visitors can also use the White Pine Trail parking area on 12 Mile Road, and walk or bike north along the White Pine Trail for a quarter-mile to the preserve.
What to See
The Maas Family Preserve provides a convenient stopping point for hikers and bikers on the White Pine Trail. With the lupine blooming in May and June, the preserve is a stunning carpet of purple. Later in summer, tall prairie grasses and wildflowers replace the lupine, and scattered trees make for an ideal setting to take in the lively commotion of birds, insects, and other wildlife that call the preserve home.
Those with sharp eyes – and a good bit of luck – may spot tiny Karner blue butterflies near patches of lupine during certain times of the year. Because it’s easy to accidentally step on Karner blue butterflies or their host plants, visitors are asked to stay on the trail at all times.
The Maas Family Preserve contains an oak-pine barrens ecosystem, one of the rarest natural communities in Michigan. The preserve also supports a population of the federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly and is one of the only sites known to contain that species in Kent County.
The Land Conservancy is in in the process of restoring and expanding the oak barrens habitat on the preserve by using various management practices such as selective forest thinning, invasive species removal, and prescribed burning.
Over the past 200 years, most of the natural land surrounding the preserve has been severely altered by development or agriculture. Ironically, the construction of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad (what is now the White Pine Trail) in the early 1800s may have protected the barrens community on what is now the preserve: sparks thrown by passing trains periodically caused fires along the railroad, protecting and encouraging fire-dependent vegetation.
By the 1930s, the preserve had been clearcut and at least a portion of it was mowed for hay. More recently, the land was left vacant and trees began to fill in, pushing out oak barrens vegetation. In 2005, following the discovery of Karner blue butterfly on the property, the Maas Family Preserve was donated to the Land Conservancy by the Leonard and Marjorie Maas family. Under the ownership of the Land Conservancy, management has focused on restoring and expanding oak barrens habitat.