Late in summer 2016, we completed the Nelson purchased conservation easement project, consisting of two adjacent conservation easements totaling 164 acres and protecting a two-mile stretch of the lower Paw Paw River just downstream of Coloma, Berrien County.
The property is a mix of high-quality forested wetland, riparian oak-hickory forest, farmland, and clay bluffs.
A plant community of ferns, mosses, and lichens — unusual in that they are usually found much farther north — grows on a rare limestone outcropping, part of a series of steep clay bluffs populated with mature hemlock and oak. Much of the region where the Paw Paw River flows is broad and flat, with significant areas of contiguous and healthy floodplain forest. The Nelson property is one of the few sites where the river drops in elevation, and where bands of floodplain forest are narrowed by the bluffs’ constraint.
The Nelson property is the second of seven conservation easements in a project that will protect about 640 acres. In December, Geoff completed a conservation easement on Sarett Nature Center’s 280-acre Brown Sanctuary, the first step of the larger project.