Conservation Easements Completed on the Lower Paw Paw River Watershed

Black’s Woods

On the very last day of 2016, we completed conservation easements Number 3, 4 and 5 of the Lower Paw Paw River Watershed Conservation Project: Pete Boerma’s Blue Creek property, Sarett Nature Center’s Black’s Woods, and Edward and Kathy Knox’s property along the East Branch of the Paw Paw River. These three new projects, combined with our previous work in this area — a conservation easement on Sarett’s 280-acre Brown Sanctuary property and the 164-acre purchased Nelson conservation easement — protect over 1,400 acres in the watershed.

This project has multiple partners and its objective was to secure funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to purchase the Nelson conservation easement and to conserve Pete Boerma’s Blue Creek property, which he has donated to Sarett. Conservation of the Blue Creek property creates a connecting link between Sarett’s original sanctuary property and their Brown Sanctuary, both located on the Paw Paw River but not directly adjacent to each other.

Sarett received the 35-acre Black’s Woods through donation several years ago. Graced with large oak trees and a never-cut white pine forest, this undeveloped natural area has about ¾ of a mile of frontage on the Paw Paw River. It is located just upstream from the Nelson property but is not adjacent to it. The 81-acre Blue Creek property is just south of Sarett’s Brown Sanctuary and is primarily a forested ravine with steep banks, with pockets of fen wetlands along the creek. Mitchell’s satyr butterflies have been located just upstream of Pete’s property on the Blue Creek but, unfortunately, it is one of the breeding populations that is in decline.

The 26-acre Knox property contains the family residence and a large pond — created by the previous owner from an impounded wetland — that produces remarkable spring-fed flow into the river. The Knox’s have about a third mile of frontage on the river, which is extremely high quality with numerous rare plants. The adjacent upland areas are a mix of forest and oak savanna with a prairie opening that also contains many interesting botanical species.

These three new projects, combined with our previous work in the Paw Paw River Watershed Conservation Project — a conservation easement on Sarett’s 280-acre Brown Sanctuary property and the 164-acre purchased Nelson conservation easement — protect over 1,400 acres in the watershed.

Blue Creek