Anonymous donation of 155-acre waterfront property

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BITELY, Mich. — An anonymous donor gave his homestead to the Land Conservancy of West Michigan to create a public nature preserve in Newaygo County.

The property is 155 acres of natural land along the Little South Branch of the Père Marquette River, including 5,321 feet of shoreline.

The land trust closed on the property in mid-April.

The Land Conservancy plans to turn the property into a nature reserve open to the public called “Upriver Nature Preserve”.

In doing so, it will create a parking lot, trails and wayfinding signage.

This donation also includes an 8-acre lot with a house and a garage.

The land conservancy says it will protect this with a conservation easement and sell to staff the ongoing care and maintenance of the new nature reserve.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan has helped protect more than 4,400 acres of land in the Pere Marquette River watershed by working with private landowners to establish conservation easements on their properties.

This reserve will be the first land conservation property that provides public access to Michigan’s only undammed river, known for its water quality and trout fishing opportunities.

The property also includes a rare sand meadow, and the Land Conservancy says that with its restoration efforts, the land could provide much-needed habitat for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly and several native species of plants, insects and of birds that depend on these endangered ecosystems. .

“We are very grateful to the family for choosing to donate their property so that we can all enjoy its resplendent beauty.

“They have created a deep legacy with their support of natural land conservation.

“For the first time, visitors will be able to visit a natural conservation land reserve on the beautiful Little South Branch and experience one of the most beautiful river systems in our region,” said Kim Karn, executive director of land conservation. .

The Land Conservancy will be holding a trail construction work day at the new reserve on Saturday, July 9 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

To stay up to date on this project or to volunteer to help, click here.

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