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Let It Flow!
27 wetland acres added to Donald and Hilda Myers Nature Preserve
Although Dr. Donald and Dr. Hilda Myers are no longer alive to see this preserve expansion, we are nonetheless deeply thankful for their vision and generosity, which lives on in the sandhill cranes, great-crested flycatchers, scarlet tanagers, and other wildlife and plants that are a part of this land.
Since 2014, SWMLC has owned and stewarded the Donald and Hilda Myers Nature Preserve on East G Avenue in Comstock Township. The 93-acre Myers Preserve protects the headwaters of Comstock Creek, as it flows south under G Avenue through the nature preserve’s woods and wet meadows, and out into Campbell Lake.
Through the farseeing generosity of the Myers family and the representatives of their trust, 27 additional acres of wetland habitat adjacent to the existing preserve have now been protected! This recent preserve expansion includes 800 feet of frontage on Campbell Lake, which will provide a safe, natural passageway for waterfowl and wetland birds.
Because of the sensitivity of the habitat, this limited access preserve will only be open to the public during special events.
The wetlands on the Myers Nature Preserve are critically important for filtration of water in the Kalamazoo City well fields less than a mile downstream.
Water that flows from the headwaters of Comstock Creek within the preserve then flows through a series of wetlands, depositing sediments and nutrients along the way, making them rich wildlife habitat. As that water flows out of the preserve and into Campbell Lake, it is made cleaner for human drinking water by this natural filtration.
Whether or not you live in the Campbell Lake area, anyone drinking city water benefits from this nature preserve.
Although Dr. Donald and Dr. Hilda Myers are no longer alive to see this preserve expansion, we are deeply thankful for their vision and generosity.
I knew Don, Hilda and their son Donnie for over 30 years. Both Don and Hilda were avid outdoors people – simply put, they loved the out-of-doors and everything that went with nature.
Don and Hilda purchased their land on G Avenue where they built the family home. Don would walk the land daily until his health would no longer permit it. He placed bird and duck houses throughout the land, many are still present. When walking his land he would meticulously pick up branches that had fallen on his trails and stack them neatly in dedicated areas.
He loved to pheasant and duck hunt the land with his son Donnie. He told me that the land behind his home that extended to the lake used to be a cow pasture and when he first moved there you could find a golf ball as easily as you could find one on a golf course. Now it has grown into thick vegetation and challenging to even walk in.
Don and Hilda routinely turned away developers wanting to purchase this beautiful piece of land, wanting to preserve it in its natural state. The Myers’ grant of much of their land to SWMLC echoes that wish which both Don and Hilda held so dear.
There were no truer stewards of the preservation of land than the Myers family.
SWMLC staff and the volunteer Wednesday and Winter Warriors have put in heroic amounts of time and toil into restoring habitat at the Don and Hilda Myers Nature Preserve – and it’s really paying off! Through sheer manual labor, they tackled an impenetrable, thick fortress of glossy buckthorn with loppers and chain saws. In the aftermath, the enormous piles of cut buckthorn weren’t very pretty in the bleak winter landscape. But by late summer, it’s almost as if the wetland responded with a huge sigh of relief, exhaling in wildflowers. Sedges, joe-pye weed, asters, and jewelweed emerged from the buried seedbank, invigorated by the sun that could fnally reach them.
A hearty shout out and thank you to the Winter Warriors and SWMLC Stewardship Crew for their hard work and dedication.
You’re making a BIG difference!
Story by Hilary Hunt, SWMLC Director of Land Protection.
Photos by Mitch Lettow, SWMLC Director of Stewardship; Dave Brown, SWMLC Stewardship Specialist; Nate Fuller, former SWMLC director of Conservation and Stewardship; and SWMLC staff.
Learn more about the initial protection of the Don and Hilda Myers Nature Preserve in the MLive article by Rosemary Parker from 2014, “New nature preserve in Comstock Township protects headwaters of Comstock Creek.”