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.
Please note, the preserve is not yet open to public exploration. It will open to the public in fall 2023. Stay tuned for more information!
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.