Saving Southwest Michigan's Special Plants & Animals

This Saturday's (2/6/16) Soundwalk at Chipman Preserve has been POSTPONED until Sunday, February 21 at 2 pm. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

A new twice-monthly series of articles that highlight southwest Michigan's threatened or endangered plants and animals  and include information about what you can do to ensure their long-term survival.

Living in southwest Michigan wouldn't be the same without the special, plant and animal species that are indigenous to the area. That's why it's so important that we take action today to help protect the land, nature, and quality of life that is so quintessential to what it means to live here. Thankfully, organizations like SWMLC are solely devoted to conserving land and protecting what makes it unique and special, including protecting water quality, preserving open space and native landscapes, and protecting important wildlife habitat. As part of SWMLC's 25th anniversary celebration in 2016, we will highlight threatened or endangered species that benefit from protected and conserved land in southwest Michigan, and include information about what you can do to help them survive and prosper.

We hope that, together, our collective conservation efforts will mean that these species will be around for many future generations to behold and enjoy.

Eastern Massasagua Rattlesnake 
Sistrurus catenatus catenatus

Species of Special Concern (proposed for full “endangered” listing)

January finds these small “swamp rattlers” hibernating underground in crayfish or mammal burrows at some of SWMLC’s protected prairie fen wetlands. The snakes will reemerge in the spring when rising water levels flood their winter homes. In the spring, you may spot them sunning themselves on sedge tussocks in the fen before some of the them head for summer homes in adjacent open uplands. As you snowshoe across the frozen wetland, it’s nice to think of the little rattlesnakes safely sleeping nearby!


 Go slowly when driving near wetlands and other natural areas. Many snake species are vulnerable to car kills due to habitat fragmentation and their habit of basking on the warm pavement.

 If you see a snake: leave it be! Massasaguas are very shy, and nearly all documented cases of bites from these small slow snakes are due to people trying to handle them. It’s exciting to see a massasagua  ΜΆ  from a distance. Keep it that way!

• Educate your friends and family: snakes need our help! Massasaguas are a shy species that avoid humans, control rodent populations, and are part of SW Michigan’s natural heritage.

• Support the habitat restoration efforts of local conservation groups like SWMLC!


2016 marks SWMLC's Silver Anniversary and it's hard to believe that so much time has passed!
There have been many changes but one constant remains: 14,000 acres of Southwest Michigan’s distinctive dunes, wetlands, forests, savannas, prairies, farms, and vineyards are now conserved and protected forever. In 2016, we're celebrating our anniversary with 25 special events that highlight our public preserves and offer fun, new activities for the whole family.
Please check our events page for the most up-to-date announcements and details. 

Join us in celebrating what we’ve achieved together in 25 years of local conservation. With your help, we’re just getting started! 

Join the Wednesday Workday Warriors!

Anyone is welcome to pitch in to help keep our preserves up to snuff. It's a wonderful way to experience the preserves with the folks who know them best, plus get acquainted with other active people who share the conservation spirit. RSVPs are always nice; just call the office at 269-324-1600 or email


We're tinkering with the upcoming 
Wednesday Workday Warrior schedule, so be sure to check back for details. In the meantime, if you're hungering for ways to exercise in the great outdoors, we've got some excellent Saturday Workdays on the Winter/Spring 2016 calendar.

Next Saturday Workday: 

February 27, 1-4 p.m.
Chipman Preserve, Comstock Township