Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve
SWMLC’s newest public preserve is now open!
Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve
We’re excited to announce that SWMLC’s newest public preserve is now open!
Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve is now open to the public everyday from dawn to dusk!
With walking trails that wind through towering pine and hardwood forests, the future 140-acre preserve’s high overlooks and riverside paths will provide an unparalleled chance for the community to connect with the Kalamazoo River in a natural setting, creating a refuge for both people and wildlife.
Click on the map image for a downloadable PDF map of the trails.
Sorry, a map that works interactively with trails apps is not available at this time.
Directions to Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve
137 Thomas St, Allegan, MI 49010
FROM KALAMAZOO via US-131
♦ Go north on US-131 toward Plainwell.
♦ Take exit 49B (M-89 W/Allegan St.), and continue driving west on M-89 for another 12.4 miles, until you reach the city of Allegan.
♦ Turn left (south) onto Jenner Drive at the light that’s just past the bridge over the Kalamazoo River.
♦ Continue driving for another 0.7 miles, then turn left onto Thomas Street (just past the hospital). Go another 0.6 miles until you reach the preserve entrance at the end of the street.
FROM KALAMAZOO via M-43/M-40
♦ Go west on West Main Street (aka M-343 in Kalamazoo, turning into M-43 outside of town).
♦ Continue driving west until you reach the intersection with M-40 (approximately 19 miles from downtown Kalamazoo).
♦ Turn right (north) onto M-40 and continue drivimg for about 15.3 miles.
♦ Turn right onto Thomas Street, just outside of Allegan. Go another 0.6 miles until you reach the preserve entrance at the end of the street.
A new Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve page is coming soon!
PROJECT UPDATE: JANUARY 2022
THANK YOU to everyone who donated in support of the future Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve!!
We received a record number of donations for our year-end appeal (more than in any other year), with over 200 people donating over $110,000 – more than matching the $50,000 challenge grant offered by the Carls Foundation. We are blown away by your generous response.
When combined with the $100,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation Planet Awards, we now have $260,000 with which to build a parking lot and trailhead, create a sustainable trail system, install wayfinding and interpretive signage, complete management plans, begin habitat restoration, and create a long-term management fund to ensure that this special property will be cared for and protected forever.
For now, the preserve remains closed to the public. We ask that people please be patient while we create safe and responsible public access that not only protects visitors, but plants and wildlife as well. We hope to open the Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve to the public in Fall 2022.
Acquisition Funding: Complete!
We extend our deepest and most heartfelt gratitude to our incredible partners who provided the funding needed to purchase the Armintrout-Milbocker property!
♥ The Armintrout and Milbocker Families
The Natural Resource Trustees for the Kalamazoo River selected the Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve in Allegan for $1 million in funding because of this unique opportunity to protect three miles of the Kalamazoo River shoreline from development while also providing many acres for people from local communities to explore and connect with the natural world. We are excited to see all the ways that Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy is engaging with partners and the public to make this nature preserve a reality.
Tom Georgoff (SWMLC Board Treasurer), Peter Ter Louw (SWMLC President & Executive Director, TJ Wilkinson (SWMLC Board Secretary) are presented with a ‘Big Check’ by Derek Nofz of Consumers Energy Foundation.
♥ An enormous thank you to Consumers Energy Foundation, who generously awarded us a $100,000 Planet Award to create public access. We are extremely honored to have received this recognition and support!
♥ Thank you to the Carls Foundation for offering a $50,000 challenge grant to encourage year-end donors to give toward building infrastructure and longterm support of Armintrout-Milbocker.
♥ And a HUGE THANK YOU to the more than 200 people who donated in support of the future Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve!
The Kalamazoo River is as richly intertwined with this nature preserve as it is with the identity of downtown Allegan.
The mighty Kalamazoo River is a central feature of the Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve and defines its shape and its ecology. The river’s outside bends flow quickly and naturally scour the sandy banks, creating impressive river bluffs 60 feet above the water. The inside river bends are slower and allow soft sediment to settle, which filters the water and nourishes low lying wetland communities.
Historically the river was an economic and cultural treasure, providing food and transportation. Later, it suffered from pollution. Today, the river’s health is improving, and increasing numbers of people are paddling kayaks and canoes on it every year, especially as its dams are removed.
The conservation of the Armintrout-Milbocker property is part of a broad partnership to protect and restore the Kalamazoo River for this, and future, generations of people and wildlife. The River is a gem connecting communities throughout Kalamazoo and Allegan Counties – through these efforts to “rewild” the river we are providing natural places for fish, birds and wildlife while encouraging a quality waterway for outdoor recreation like paddling, fishing, boating, and wildlife watching.
The nature preserve is a sanctuary for plants and wildlife.
The Kalamazoo River winds for three full miles along the shores of the nature preserve, creating invaluable wildlife and fish habitat in a corridor that connects (via the river) to the richly biodiverse 50,000 acre Allegan State Game Area.
A recent botanical survey of the future Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve, conducted by Orbis Environmental Consulting, emphasized that the property’s beauty goes way beyond “good bones.” Like most West Michigan parcels, it’s been farmed and timbered in the past and suffers from the expected invasions of obnoxious plants like garlic mustard and autumn olive. But some impressively large trees some how escaped the axe (perhaps by growing on steep slopes), including a red oak whose trunk measures 5 feet in diameter. It’s also botanically rich, with an incredible 560 plant species calling it home – including 10 that are either endangered or threatened in Michigan!
Hairy Leafcup (Smallanthus uvedalius) • 8 out of 10 on the Floristic Quality Assessment Index • According to University of Michigan’s Herbarium: “Very rare and local in rich forests and moist borders of mixed hardwoods.”
The nature preserve will be a peaceful place for people.
The property has been owned by the Armintrout and Milbocker families for decades and, thanks to their generosity, has served as a quiet, natural space for family hikes, dog walks, kids’ nature studies, bird- and river-watching, cross-country skiing adventures, and more.
This unique, diverse, pristine acreage will will be available for countless individuals, families, and school groups to enjoy in perpetuity thanks to the efforts of the SWMLC’s efforts to create the Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve in Allegan. It is good for the body, soul, and mind. I am so grateful to have it in place. It is needed more than ever.
As a Science teacher in Allegan, I hope to bring my students to the preserve multiple times during the school year. By being outside and seeing Science in nature, I hope to foster an understanding, appreciation and desire to protect our natural resources in my students. The more advocates for the Great Lakes area we have, the better off our natural areas will be in the future.
The Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve will be a valuable resource for our community. Whether for the enrichment and expansion of curriculum for K-12 students, a space for local residents to enjoy nature and regenerate, or a new outdoor destination for the greater community, the preserve will provide a variety of experiences for visitors of all ages.
The nature preserve will be a beautiful natural backdrop for visitors.
Motorists making their way into Allegan on M-89 from the east can glimpse the future Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve’s high, forested banks towering proudly over the river, framing the small town charm of downtown Allegan.
This nature preserve will be such a wonderful thing for residents, tourists, and the overall business community. It not only helps encourage health and wellness for both locals and visitors, but contributes to the education and appreciation of our local waterway and the natural environment in our small town.
We look forward to continuing this legacy of connecting people with nature by protecting it forever as a public nature preserve – which we hope, ultimately, will serve the entire community of Allegan.