McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve

County: Newaygo 300 acres
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Scenic Vista
  • Water Feature
  • Wildlife Viewing

An exciting opportunity in the Pere Marquette River Watershed

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan has acquired 300 acres in Newaygo County, creating McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve: a forested, riverside oasis open to public exploration! The property is home to many high-quality natural features in need of protection as well as degraded habitat in need of restoration.

The Land Conservancy is seeking the community’s support to ensure this landscape, its waterways, and its benefits to the public are protected forever.

Help Protect McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve With a Gift Today!

About the Property

Every season promises visitors to McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve something new to discover, from the delicate ephemeral wildflowers and exuberant frog calls of spring to the thrilling salmon migration and technicolor fungi in fall.  

Located just a few miles east of M-37 and south of Baldwin, the 300-acre property includes a 3,500-feet stretch of the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River and over 3,200 feet of frontage on both sides of McDuffee Creek. The Pere Marquette River is a nationally designated Wild & Scenic River and McDuffee Creek is a known trout stream. 

The property connects U.S. Forest Service land on its south and east borders, creating a natural greenway in this patchwork of protected forest. Wetland areas flank the waterways, with alder shrubs and sedge wetlands along the Little South Branch and a large area of wooded lowland along McDuffee Creek. The lowland forest has many vernal pools during the spring, which can be filled with several species of breeding amphibians. A portion of the south side of the property is an old field: land that may have once been the site of a red pine plantation. Some of this land holds the potential to be restored to oak savanna, which would reintroduce a rare habitat and biodiversity to a landscape that has long been deprived of it. 

The Opportunity

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan hopes to transform this landscape into a welcoming public nature preserve while restoring and preserving the land and water habitats. At 300 acres, the property is the largest preserve owned and managed by the Land Conservancy. 

As a Land Conservancy nature preserve, the previously private property is open to the public for hiking, fishing, and other quiet recreational pursuits. The Land Conservancy plans to establish a parking lot, wayfinding signage, several miles of trail, boardwalks, and a footbridge across the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River.

The Land Conservancy’s acquisition of the landscape protects both sides of its riverfront from the threat of residential development, preserving the water quality of these valuable waterways. The Land Conservancy’s management plans for the property include invasive species removal, planting of native plant species, and prescribed fire to ensure the habitats are healthy and best-equipped to support the region’s resident plants and wildlife. Volunteers will continue to play a role in the care and management of the property, helping to build and maintain trails, keep invasive species at bay, and participate in the restoration of degraded habitat. 

Located in one of the three focal areas identified by the Land Conservancy’s Strategic Conservation Plan, the acquisition of this landscape advances several of the organization’s goals for the Big Forests & Wild Rivers region. Protecting and connecting habitat in the Pere Marquette River watershed supports the health and resilience of native birds, wildlife, fish, and insects that are increasingly challenged by climate change and urban development.

How You Can Support

The purchase was made with support from a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant, a donation of the property value by the landowner, several donors, and a loan from the Land Conservancy’s Land Acquisition Fund, which was created by generous benefactors to help us act quickly to take advantage of opportunities to protect natural land. The Land Conservancy is raising money to pay back its Land Acquisition Fund as well as cover the costs of establishing public access features, and the creation of a fund to support the maintenance and restoration of the property into the future.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan needs the community’s support to make McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve a welcoming place for birds, fish, wildlife, and humans. Please, make a gift to support McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve today!

The project is made possible with support from the Carls Foundation, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, Ducks Unlimited, the Fremont Area Community Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Support McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve!

WATCH: Explore McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve with Spencer High

Help Create McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve

Make a gift to support McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve today!

Donate Today

Nearby Natural Areas

  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Scenic Vista
  • Water Feature
  • Wildlife Viewing

Sign up for our E-news!

Receive the latest West Michigan conservation news, events and volunteer opportunities in your inbox.
* = required field