Thank you for helping us celebrate the work and legacy of Pete Ter Louw!

Dozens of friends and SWMLC supporters came to offer best wishes and farewell to Peter Ter Louw, former Executive Director of Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) at a recent party held in his honor at the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven. Ter Louw announced in December that he would be leaving to pursue new opportunities after 20+ years with the non-profit environmental organization.

As the party proceeded, remarks were made, and certificates of recognition and appreciation were awarded to Pete by Robert Beemer, President of Deer Creek Open Space Association; Ross Stein (South Haven Area Recreation Authority & South Haven Township Supervisor); and a representative of Michigan Senator Aric Nesbitt’s office. A beautiful, original oil painting of the beach at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area was gifted to him, created specifically for Pete by local plein air artist Richard Jordan.

Many thanks to Brian Bosgraaf for making arrangements for a smashing party, and to the staff at the Michigan Maritime Museum for making us feel so welcome!

If we didn’t get your picture, it wasn’t for lack of trying!

A letter from Peter Ter Louw


As I prepare for new opportunities, I want to wish everyone and the new leadership the best in propelling SWMLC to another level of success.

After 20 years as Executive Director, it’s rewarding to sit back and consider how SWMLC has grown and evolved during my more than two decades here. Through it all, the diversity and impact of our conservation work has never ceased to amaze me. It has included landmark planning projects like the Barry State Game Area Conservation Plan to expand wildlife habitat and reduce forest fragmentation; building and strengthening partnerships with local and state government; overseeing SWMLC’s broad array of staff and volunteer-led conservation; working with water resources and nature groups across southwest Michigan.

A major highlight for me has been creating open space that increases access to Lake Michigan. We have done that most notably through our partnership with the South Haven Area Recreation Authority to create the Pilgrim Haven and Porter Legacy Dunes properties in South Haven.

I have been honored to work with SWMLC’s staff, board of directors and remarkable volunteers to grow the organization and address the opportunities and challenges. The same applies to our incredibly rewarding work with landowners and donors to conserve land and fulfill their dreams. But 20 years in any job is long enough, and it’s time for a break and time for a change. For myself and SWMLC there’s still much good work to be done and I look forward with hopeful anticipation to the next chapter.

It has been an honor and pleasure to conserve nature and the landscapes of southwest Michigan. Thank you for supporting me in this endeavor.

Photos, Amelia Hansen.