Eastern Glacial Corridor

Eastern Glacial Corridor

Thousands of years ago, a period of intense climate change caused glaciers to melt away and mold the Eastern Glacial Corridor into a geologically diverse landscape. These shrinking masses of ice left behind rolling hills and lakes, streams and wetlands. They also left behind dry, well-draining soils that, along with fire, led to the development of prairies, oak savannas and oak woodlands.  

These diverse landscapes support an even more diverse array of plants and wildlife. Mysterious bogs are filled with sphagnum moss and carnivorous plants—species that thrive in harsh conditions. Prairie grasses and wildflowers grow roots as deep as 12 feet in the ground, protecting the landscape from erosion and sequestering carbon in the earth. 

Once abundant in Michigan, these systems have been reduced to a fraction of their original footprint. Very few large, unfragmented habitat patches remain in this region, and agricultural and residential development threaten the health of what’s left. Invasive species and pathogens like oriental bittersweet, autumn olive, emerald ash borer and oak wilt also pose a threat to the integrity of the region’s natural lands, wetlands and waterways.

Blue spotted salamander

The drought-tolerant nature of the Eastern Glacial Corridor’s ecosystems and the diversity of their topography, geology and hydrology make them uniquely resilient to precipitation and temperature-related climate shifts. There is also an opportunity to protect and restore habitat patches to establish a north-south corridor and allow movement of plants and wildlife between regionally significant natural areas like Barry State Game Area to the south and Manistee National Forest in the north. 

Protecting the Eastern Glacial Corridor

Goal

Preserve a diverse patchwork of healthy, functional habitat types that will support a high level of biodiversity and ecosystem services now and into the future.

Strategies
  • Protect lands that expand or form connections between existing habitat blocks, ultimately creating a landscape-level corridor between regionally important natural areas to the south and the Big Forests & Wild Rivers region to the north.
  • Protect lands with high geological and hydrological variability to provide microhabitats for a range of communities and species. 
  • Work with landowners and other partners to implement land management practices to restore and sustain the diverse mixture of prairies, oak savannas, open oak woodlands, streams and wetlands characteristic of this region.

Related Projects

Maas Family Nature Preserve

Located in Rockford, the Maas Family Preserve is home to a remnant oak-pine barrens ecosystem–a unique savanna community that supports the endangered Karner blue butterfly. The preserve is a popular stop-off point for users of the White Pine Trail, particularly in May and June when the purple lupine is in full bloom.

Read More

Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve

Located east of Rockford, Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve is one of West Michigan’s flagship natural areas. Convenient parking and over a mile of meandering trails allow visitors to appreciate the bog, prairie, forests, and fields–and the diversity of wildlife they support–in all seasons.

Read More

Wege Foundation Natural Area

Located just outside of Lowell, adjacent to Lowell High School and the Wittenbach/Wege Environmental Center, this preserve is often used as an outdoor classroom by Lowell-area students and nature enthusiasts. Hiking trails wind through mixed hardwood forests, cross over a trout stream, and wander through old farm pastures.

Read More

Where We Will Focus

How did we choose our focal regions?

To identify lands in West Michigan that best support biodiversity, water quality and the long-term resilience of our native plants and wildlife, the Land Conservancy of West Michigan first needed to define what constitutes “conservation potential.” We created a story map to illustrate how we approached that.

View Story Map

Support Strategic Conservation

This plan is ambitious and will succeed only with your help. Donate now to support strategic conservation in West Michigan.

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