Fairway to Heaven

Celebrating the completion of the Fairway to Heaven Conservation Easement.

Another healthy chunk of land along the Paw Paw River has been protected forever, thanks to Carol Harris and her generous conservation spirit!

Not content to just love nature from the comfort of her armchair, Carol is a person who puts thought into action. A dedicated volunteer with SWMLC’s weekly stewardship groups, the Privateers and Wednesday Warriors, Carol has taken her environmental commitment to a new level by protecting her land with a conservation easement held by SWMLC, and very generously donating the associated costs. She calls it the Fairway to Heaven Conservation Easement in honor of her late husband and his passion for golf.

SWMLC President & Executive Director Mike Larson, Carol Harris, SWMLC Land Protection Director Kaleigh Winkler, and SWMLC Land Protection Specialist Emily Brown.

The 45-acre property is graced by upland oaks and hickories, nearly a half mile of frontage on the South Branch Paw Paw River, and 11 acres of swamp and floodplain forest – rich, wet habitats that burst with plants, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds, including threatened prothonotary warblers and red-shouldered hawks. Floodplain forests also guard water quality from soil-erosion pollution and absorb potentially damaging floodwaters.

A grove of pawpaw trees at Fairway to Heaven CE.

Fairway to Heaven CE is located within 5 miles of 1,450 acres of conserved land (including 3 more private SWMLC CE’s and our limited-access Paw Paw River and Dayton-Willard Wildlife Preserves) and is within a conservation ‘hub’ (an area of critical focus) as determined by SWMLC’s Climate Resiliency Plan, Nature’s Network, creating a network that allows wildlife to move freely through a protected landscape. The new CE is the final piece in SWMLC’s three-year pollution control project aimed at protecting land within the Paw Paw River Watershed, recognized as a high-priority area in 3 different conservation management plans.

Summer on the banks of the South Branch of the Paw Paw River at Fairway to Heaven CE.
Fairway to Heavens moist habitats are a botanist's delight, home to many species of sedges and ferns.
The South Branch of the Paw Paw River is magically unspoiled and beautiful, even in November!
Lizard's tail (Saururus cernuus) is a floodplain forest plant that can grow up to 3 feet in height.


Your generosity and forethought are inspiring, positive ripples that will travel far into the future.

A conservation easement (CE) is a permanent, voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust. Carol will continue to own her property until she decides to sell or leave it to others, but the terms (which vary and are unique to each property) that conserve its natural features by restricting development are passed on with the deed and protected by the easement holder (in this case, SWMLC). Carol has the peace of mind of knowing that her beloved land will be protected forever, no matter who owns it in the future.
PLEASE NOTE: Though this property will be protected forever by a conservation easement held by SWMLC, it is private land and not open to the public. Please respect the landowners’ privacy. Thank you!
This is what we do. SWMLC helps families like this one explore their land protection options to see if conservation is right for them. As a community-supported organization, YOU make this possible. Your desire to conserve special, natural places in Michigan has protected over 18,500 acres since 1991. Together, we are making a difference.
Photos, Kaleigh Winkler     |    Story, Amelia Hansen