The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (DEGLE) awarded the grant which will protect a 140-acre property that has 4,000 feet of frontage on High Banks Creek, as well as wetlands, restored prairie, and high-quality oak-hickory woods. Shade from this woodland cools the water in High Banks Creek, creating better habitat for native aquatic species. The property’s wetlands and restored prairie provide important habitat for native and migrating wildlife, including migratory songbirds.
The grant is being used to purchase a permanent conservation easement on the property, ensuring that the land is protected and remains in its natural state forever. The landowners have been intent on conserving their land from the beginning, also recognizing its value in protecting the quality of High Banks Creek and the Thornapple River, as well as assisting groundwater recharge and providing habitat for native wildlife. By placing a conservation easement on their land through Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, they now have the peace of mind of knowing that their property will be protected from development forever, no matter who owns it in the future.
“Conserving this land is important to preventing erosion issues that occur with residential or other types of development. As the name indicates, the banks on this portion of the creek are extremely high and therefore especially vulnerable to erosion. Keeping this property undeveloped helps to safeguard against the possibility of excessive storm water runoff that can cause soil from the banks to fall into the creek, damaging the ecology as well as the water quality of the creek and the Thornapple River system,” stated Barry Conservation District Executive Director Sarah Nelson.
“Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy is grateful to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy for providing the grant funds to make conservation of this important property possible,” stated Emily Wilke, Conservation Projects Manager at the conservancy. “And we are encouraged and inspired by the landowners’ patience and perseverance as we worked together to conserve their land through a permanent conservation easement, ensuring that this land will be protected for future generations.”
This conservation easement reflects work that Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy has been doing in the region for decades. Over the last 2 years, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy has helped conserve over 5,107 acres in Barry County, bringing the total amount of conserved land to 15,769 acres, or over 24 ½ square miles.
To find out how you can conserve your land, or to learn more about Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, please visit our website: https://swmlc.org/
High Banks Creek photos by Emily Wilke.