Augusta Creek in Barry County, MI. Photo by Bruce Howe.

The wetlands on Larry and Noel Hayward’s property have an austere beauty on the eve of Winter Solstice, but it won’t be long before they hum with life when spring awakens.

Marking this shortest day of the year can be sobering, but one is quickly cheered by the knowledge that the days will now begin to lengthen and grow brighter. It’s this optimistic, deep-rooted outlook that inspired the Haywards to protect their land forever with Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy.

Earlier this week, the Haywards generously gave their Barry Township property’s development rights to Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. In doing so, their land will remain private – but stay natural forever – no matter who may own it in the future.

Calling it the Ira and Linnea Hall Conservation Easement in honor of Noel’s parents who once owned and farmed the upland areas, the Haywards are at peace knowing that it is protected for future generations.

The 150-acre property is a beautiful mix of oak-hickory forest, agricultural land, and wetlands. Roughly half of it is wet, with several different types of habitat present . . . shrubby wetlands, shallow and deep marshes, wet meadows, and prairie fen – all in excellent condition. These high-quality wetlands include 1.5 miles of frontage on pristine Augusta Creek and surround half of Marshall Lake (the other half protected by Ford Farm Conservation Easement, held by Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy).

Marshall Lake is completely protected by two easements held by Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy

The Augusta Creek Watershed has been a long-time area of conservation focus for Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy because of its large size, pristine quality, and because it flows directly into the Kalamazoo River.

Like widening circles in the water, the Hayward’s generosity not only protects their own property, but also helps to protect wildlife habitat and water quality hundreds of miles away.

Thank you, Larry and Noel!

Are you (or someone you know) curious about land protection options? Call Bruce Howe, SWMLC Land Protection Specialist, or Emily Wilke, SWMLC Conservation Projects Manager, for a confidential conversation at 269-324-1600. For general information about land protection options for landowners, check the pages under the dropdown menu item Protect Your Land.

Augusta Creek Watershed covers 30 square miles and is one of eight sub-watersheds that have been marked as priority conservation areas.