What to See
Currently, The Highlands closely resembles its 100+ year history as a golf course. However, in its first season as a natural area, the grass has grown high and wildlife has moved in, including turtles, fox, deer, muskrat, and a multitude of birds and insects.
It is rare for a piece of manicured or developed urban land to return to nature. For over a century, the land has been extensively watered and fertilized. The restoration of this landscape will bring about substantial improvements to water and air quality in the city and will help in the city’s goal to increase forest canopy. The project also offers educational opportunities and will be a model for large-scale urban restoration in the region.
The Phase One campaign to secure The Highlands is complete. Our dream to transform the former golf course into a premier space for learning, recreation and conservation is now a reality.
Blandford Nature Center and the Land Conservancy of West Michigan collaborated on the purchase of the 121-acre Highlands Golf Club in Grand Rapids in the winter of 2017 with a vision to transform the property into a natural area for community recreation and education (Read more about the acquisition here).
The property was acquired with a loan from The Conservation Fund. The Conservation Fund is a national nonprofit organization that helps local communities achieve their conservation goals.
As the property begins its transformation, Blandford and the Land Conservancy will be working with the community to create a plan and make improvements on the property.
The Highlands project is made possible with support from the Judy & Kenneth Betz Family, CDV5 Foundation, Consumers Energy Foundation, Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation, Frey Foundation Fund of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, REI, The Conservation Fund, Third Coast Development, Wege Foundation, Wolverine Worldwide Foundation and many more.