Opportunities to Volunteer and Learn

TNCfenOn ​Saturday, August 27 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has scheduled a guided hike followed by a “work day” at ​Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve.

​Conservancy scientist Shaun Howard will lead you on a guided hike as you learn what makes this preserve so special. Afterwards, join us as we work to clear the trails near the 38th Ave. entrance. Bring your lunch. We end the day at the wooded inland dunes, part of the preserve not often seen by visitors.

From Exit 7 on I-196 (US31) proceed west to the Blue Star Highway (A-2), and then travel north to CR-376. Turn right and travel just over a mile. The entrance will be on the left, across from Dune Lake Campground.


From Watervliet, MI: Take exit 41 off of I-94 and travel north on M-140 for 6.2 miles.
Turn left on CR-376 (44th Ave.) and travel 3.3 miles west to the preserve.

​Parking is limited. Use caution when parking alongside the road.

​Dress in comfortable clothing and wear hiking or walking shoes. Due to deer flies and mosquitoes, we recommend long sleeves and pants as well as a hat.
A light snack and beverage will be provided, but please bring your own lunch and water.
Pets are not allowed on TNC preserves. For further information on our preserve guidelines, please click here.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Christin Jones at TNC: 517-316-0300 ext. 2212 or christin.jones@tnc.org.

TNC will host another guided hike and work day on Saturday, September 24 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Details to follow.

AN ADDED OPPORTUNITY: Consider joining TNC at Paw Paw Prairie Fen Preserve tomorrow August 20, September 17, and October 15 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. to help restore the upland prairie

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TNC Schedules Birding Hike at Ross Preserve

RossPondEdgesAs part of its first ever Ross Preserve Fall Fest, The Nature Conservancy has planned a birding walk from 9AM to noon on Saturday, September 12. A naturalist will guide the group, help spot and identify birds, and answer questions about this unique coastal plain habitat.

Space is limited so reserve your place by September 10.

For additional information including: how to register and directions to the starting point for the hike see the announcement at the TNC website.

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White River Township – Agreement Reached

We have supported and reported on the battle of White River township to preserve a two-hundred-foot wide lot on Lake Michigan. A developer has been trying to initiate development of a lot in a critical dune area adjacent to the township’s Barrier Dune Sanctuary. The lot can only be accessed by a quarter-mile easement through the protected land.


A long and expensive court battle would be necessary to determine the conditions on the easement: whether a easement even exists; whether a paved road or only a footpath is allowed; where is it; what limits on use exist.

In May 2013 the DEQ rejected the developer’s permit application and ruled that the access was a “road”, not a “driveway”. Therefore, it is not eligible for the exemptions provided in the “sand dune law” for driveways. The developers could have appealed the ruling but instead chose in September 2013 to sue the township.

Eventually the parties entered into negotiations and in December 2014 reached an agreement that the developer would sell the land to the township providing the township paid $900,000 within 18 months. When the sale is completed the land will be incorporated into the Sanctuary. The settlement agreement effectively suspended the lawsuit.

The township has launched a campaign to raise funds to complete the purchase. The township has applied for a grant from the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund and is seeking further funding from private and public sources.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan is assisting in the effort. For a description of the land and the sanctuary visit their website. Don’t miss the video. And support their endeavor.

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Ross Preserve Opportunities

Mud Lake – Ross Coastal Plain Marsh

On May 22 we posted information about The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC’s) volunteer program for the Ross Preserve in Covert. Preserve the Dunes supports this effort and encourages members and friends to volunteer. Volunteering will be an opportunity to see and learn about a variety of dune environments, have fun and contribute toward restoring one of Michigan’s natural places.

TNC will hold a second introductory meeting for interested persons who did not attend the first. It will be held on Friday, June 19 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Sarett Nature Center:

2300 Benton Center Rd.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

During the next three months, three work days are planned for selected Saturdays from 9 AM to 1 PM. The first will be on June 20.

TNC has prepared a one page briefing about the program. Click here.

For more information on Ross Preserve and other nearby opportunities to volunteer, visit the TNC website.

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Special Event

Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve

Ancient sand dunes from the shores of postglacial Lake Nipissing created a mosaic of botanical communities on this beautiful and environmentally important 1,449-acre preserve, the most outstanding being three coastal plain marshes. These wet meadows occur in sandy basins along the shores of small lakes and ponds and harbor plants and animals ordinarily found in marshes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The preserve contains wooded inland dunes, wetlands, small lakes and northern hardwood forests. The diverse flora includes eight species that are either endangered or rare, including globe-fruited seedbox, meadow beauty, appressed bog clubmoss (Lycopodiella subappressa) and netted nut-rush

The Nature Conservancy will host an introductory meeting for persons interested in volunteering at the Preserve. You can learn more about what the Preserve offers and the volunteer program by attendiing the event on June 4th at 7-8 p.m in the Edna Norris Classroom at the Sarett Nature Center at:

2300 Benton Center Rd.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Planned activities for the summer workdays will be presented, as well as tentative dates. TNC will also introduce its program to pilot a Volunteer Conservation Team that will work on the Preserve regularly throughout the summer months.

Southern Blue Flag at Ross Preserve

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House Bill 4540

State lawmakers are considering a bill to make location and condition of energy pipelines secret. House Bill 4540 would exempt information about existing and proposed energy infrastructure from disclosure under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

This is supposed to be in the name of national security, but inspection records and other reports of the quality of the pipelines would also be hidden away from the eyes of concerned citizens and journalists, shielded by an exemption to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

That does not bode well for the environment and is evidence of the legislature’s proclivity to eliminate oversight of operations of business and industry that can, and do, effect the health and welfare of citizens as did Enbridge’s leaking oil pipe under the Kalamazoo River. Continue reading

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No Ice Is Safe Ice

Two recent articles show why “no ice is safe ice.” Links are embedded below. Both are worth reading.

Last week a Huffington Posts blog by Tom Gill showcased the beauty and magnificence of shelf ice on Lake Michigan. The article explains how that beauty is produced and what are the dangers of the winter coasts on the Great Lakes.


An article on MLive Muskegon Chronicle contains further warnings about ice formations and also concludes that “no ice is safe ice.”

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Governor Snyder Vetoes SB78

Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder came out in support of conservation and good science when he vetoed Senate Bill 78, which would have blocked state agencies from designating land to protect biodiversity. Continue reading

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