Remembering Molly Bradshaw

Remembering Molly Bradshaw

Molly Bradshaw played a pivotal role in shaping what the Land Conservancy of West Michigan is today. She passed away in July 2019.

Molly Bradshaw, then president of the Natural Areas Conservancy of West Michigan, speaking at the dedication of the Saugatuck Dunes Natural Area.

If you are visiting Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve this fall, enjoying the pathway through the field down to the boardwalk, or if you are hiking the steep and sandy slopes of Saugatuck Dunes Natural Area, you should know that, quietly and behind the scenes, Molly Bradshaw was instrumental in making your experience possible.

When Molly passed away earlier this year, we were saddened by the loss of not only an exceptional supporter and volunteer, but also a friend. Molly took a leadership role early in the Conservancy’s history and was the president of the all-volunteer group when the first big project—legislatively protecting the 300-acre natural area in Saugatuck Dunes State Park—was dedicated in 1988.

At about the same time, the Conservancy acquired the first portion of Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve. In addition to her service on the board of directors, Molly put in a great deal of time planting trees, building boardwalks, writing a preserve guide and mowing trails so that others could enjoy the bog.

Her support for the Land Conservancy went much deeper, though. It was Molly’s skill and hard work that made it possible for the Land Conservancy to grow from a small, all-volunteer organization to a professionally staffed conservancy with an office. Molly successfully applied for grants and encouraged others to support the Conservancy. She helped hire staff, set up the office and found corporations willing to donate furniture, while she ensured that there was nature-inspired artwork gracing the Conservancy’s office walls.

Molly’s regular visits to the office were welcome, and we enjoyed sharing stories about land conservation, our families or about her never-ending struggle with either the wasps in the shed at Saul Lake Bog Preserve or the unreliable mower. Molly was a remarkable woman who never sought the spotlight, but whose dedication transformed not only the land around Saul Lake Bog, but also land conservation in West Michigan.

This article appeared the Fall Newsletter 2019. Read the rest of that newsletter here.

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