Dodging downpours, about 55 donors, members, and local supporters came out Saturday afternoon to attend the Grand Opening of Pilgrim Natural Area.

SWMLC Board Chair Janice Varney opened the gathering, with donor recognition signs in the foreground.

They came to see Suzanne Parish’s dream of sharing this beloved slice of nature with the community become real when the giant scissors snipped the red ribbon and made it official.


Janice Varney leaning on the Pilgrim Haven Camp sign that will become part of the trailhead.

Opening comments were given by Janice Varney (SWMLC Board Chair), Ross Stein (South Haven Charter Township Supervisor and SHARA Chair), Jim Marcoux (Pilgrim Haven Advisory Committee member and Director of the South Haven Community Foundation), and Pete Ter Louw (Southwest Michigan land Conservancy President and Executive Director).

The Grand Opening event gave us an opportunity to thank all of the volunteers who have served on the Pilgrim Haven Committee for the past 7+ years and donors . . .


which includes Suzanne Parish, DNR Natural Resources Trust Fund, MDEQ Coastal Zone Management Program, South Haven Area Resource Council, VanDalson Foundation, Cottage Home, and Entergy-Palisades, the Citizens of South Haven Charter Township through the South Haven Township Recreation Millage, along with many individual donors.

After entering into a 20-year lease agreement with SWMLC in fall 2016, the South Haven Recreational Authority is now responsible for general maintenance and management of the preserve, and implementation of public access improvements. SWMLC will continue to own the property and care for the natural areas and wildlife.

We are pleased to see Pilgrim Haven ‘officially’ added to the long list of natural recreational opportunities in the South Haven area.

Thank you for all of your support!

Entergy-Palisades Power Plant provided support to the project with a $75,000 grant.

Ribbon cutting at the entrance to the barrier- free walkway to the beach with members of the Pilgrim Haven Advisory Committee, South Haven Township Supervisor Ross Stein, and City of South Haven Mayor Scott Smith.

Photos: Tom Renner