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 the chance to protect 300 acres in Newaygo County and create the 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. Under the Land Conservancy’s ownership, this vital protection and care would be guaranteed.

The Land Conservancy needs 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. Both the Little South Branch and McDuffee Creek are designated Natural Rivers within the state of Michigan. 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

Under the Land Conservancy’s ownership and care, this property would become a welcoming public nature preserve and would benefit from the restoration and preservation of the land and water habitats. At 300 acres, the property would become the largest preserve owned and managed by the Land Conservancy. 

As a Land Conservancy nature preserve, the previously private property would be open to the public for hiking, fishing, and other quiet recreational pursuits. A parking lot will be constructed, and wayfinding signage will be placed at the trailhead and along trail loops that guide visitors through a variety of different environments.  Boardwalks will lead visitors through the lowland areas, and the Land Conservancy intends to build a footbridge to take visitors across the bubbling waters of the Little South Branch. 

The Land Conservancy’s acquisition of the landscape will protect both sides of its riverfront from the threat of residential development, preserving the water quality of these valuable waterways. The Land Conservancy would be able to provide much-needed management for the whole property—including 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 would be able 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, acquiring this property would advance several of the organization’s goals for the Big Forests & Wild Rivers region. Protecting and connecting habitat in the Pere Marquette River watershed will support 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 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.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan needs the community’s support to create McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve! We need to raise approximately $250,000 more to cover the purchase of the property, the costs of establishing public access features, and the creation of a stewardship endowment to fund the maintenance and restoration of the property into the future.

The Carls Foundation is generously matching early donations to the fundraising campaign. Make a gift today to double your impact!

Support McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve!

WATCH: Explore McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve with Spencer High


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Help Create McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve

The Carls Foundation is generously matching early donations to the fundraising campaign. Make a gift to support McDuffee Creek Nature Preserve today and double your impact!

Donate Today

Nearby Natural Areas

Lake Breeze Nature Preserve

Just south of Pentwater, Lake Breeze Nature Preserve protects a diverse coastal forest and pristine vernal wetlands. A stone’s throw from Lake Michigan, the preserve is a quiet haven for wildflowers, wildlife, and nature lovers alike.

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

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