What to See
In its first seasons as a natural area, the grass at The Highlands has grown high and wildlife has moved in, including turtles, fox, deer, muskrat and a multitude of birds and insects. The Land Conservancy, with the help of volunteers, has planted a variety of native wildflowers and grasses which have already begun to flourish. With help from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ducks Unlimited, the Land Conservancy has installed eight wetlands on the property. Ducks, herons, frogs, turtles and more have flocked to them, bringing biodiversity to the middle of the city.
It is rare for a piece of manicured or developed urban land to return to nature. For over a century, the land had been heavily watered and fertilized. The long-term 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.
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.
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.
The Phase One campaign to secure The Highlands is complete. Our community’s vision to transform this former golf course into a premier space for learning, recreation and conservation is now a reality.
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.