Route 66: Back in the Saddle!

John Lewandowski, long-time SWMLC member and friend, is ready to get back on his bike to raise money in support of SWMLC's farmland initiative!

During a 15-day bike ride, John will pedal 1000 miles down Route 66, starting in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 28 and finishing on the Santa Monica Pier in California on October 13.  

Like to join the effort to increase agricultural protection? Sponsor John in his ride!

You can sponsor John by the day ($5/day would be a $75 sponsorship), by the mile (10 cents per mile would be a $106.40 sponsorship), or however you would like! All sponsorships and donations are welcomed.
100% of the proceeds from John's bicycle trip on Route 66 will go toward the SWMLC farmland initiative!
Click here to make a secure on-line pledge (type "Route 66" in the comments line), or send your check to: Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, 8395 East Main St., Galesburg, MI  49053.

Time is short (!) so please spread the word by downloading this informational poster and sharing it with your friends. 

Thank you to John and to all of his supporters!

About the Farmland Initiative . . . Help Preserve Southwest Michigan's Unique Coastal Fruitbelt 

The Lake Michigan coastal climate enables Michigan's niche in fruit production - which ranges from blueberries, to grapes, cherries and orchard fruits from the Indiana line to the straits of Mackinac. Southwest Michigan contains the largest part of the Michigan fruit belt and is especially significant for agriculture as it accounts for more than 1/3 of the state's agricultural receipts. Across the nine counties of Southwest Michigan, over 60% of the land base is used for agricultural purposes.

However, we also know that farmland in Southwest Michigan is threatened, especially along the coastal fruitbelt. A 2005 study by the American Farmland Trust revealed that Southwest Michigan was one of 20 regions across the U.S. with the highest rate of farmland loss. How can we support farmland protection in our lakeshore counties of Southwest Michigan while balancing it with the protection of water quality in Lake Michigan? 

Moving forward, SWMLC is embarking upon an effort to increase agricultural protection in Southwest Michigan with a broad goal to protect strategic parcels in Michigan's fruit-belt and elsewhere in Southwest Michigan. To undertake this expanded initiative, it will require new funding support for the costs of protecting these farms. 

SWMLC benefits enormously from funding support for the permanent responsibilities it accepts with conservation easements and is grateful for the capacity to continue protecting more land each year and into the future. 

2016 marks SWMLC's Silver Anniversary
and it's hard to believe that so much time has passed!

There have been many changes but one constant remains: 14,000 acres of Southwest Michigan’s distinctive dunes, wetlands, forests, savannas, prairies, farms, and vineyards are now conserved and protected forever. In 2016, we're celebrating our anniversary with 25 special events that highlight our public preserves and offer fun, new activities for the whole family.
Please check our events page for the most up-to-date announcements and details.

Join us in celebrating what we’ve achieved together in 25 years of local conservation. With your help, we’re just getting started!


The Wednesday Workday Warriors

Lucky Season 13!
Anyone is welcome to pitch in to help keep our preserves up to snuff. It's a wonderful way to experience the preserves with the folks who know them best, plus get acquainted with other active people who share the conservation spirit. RSVPs are always nice; just call the office at 269-324-1600 or email

Catch the Wednesday Warriors in the news at SW Michigan Spark!

Wednesday, October 26: Warrior Field Trip!

In our tradition of patting ourselves on the backs and creating a lovely bookend to a season of workdays (24 so far by my count!), instead of a workday we will have an educational field trip during our regularly scheduled workday time slot.
As such, next Wednesday, October 26 @ 1:00 p.m. at the Black River Preserve, the original "fun-guy" himself Paul Olexia will be leading a mushroom walk!

Paul is one of the original Wednesday Warriors, Professor Emeritus of Kalamazoo College, a man of sharp wit, and all-around ecology whiz, so this will be a special opportunity! Similar to bird walks, we won't know exactly what type of fungi we'll find until we explore the preserve, but that's the fun of it! We will certainly have no problem entertaining ourselves exploring this freshly opened preserve with 3.5 miles of new trails, cool ravines, and spectacular floodplain.

Find more information about the preserve here.

We may seek out some local brews/refreshments after the trip so plan accordingly if you need to be on your own schedule rather than carpool. Hope to see you there!

WHERE: Black River Preserve, Geneva Twp., Van Buren Co.

WHEN: Carpool leaves at 12:15 pm, or meet at the preserve at 1 pm. Directions below.

BRING: Regular hiking boots should be sufficient footwear, but bring along a pack perhaps with a field guide or two, and some water. As we're entering the chilly fall of Michigan, make sure to check the weather and dress accordingly. If we get a light drizzle/sprinkle we will probably take a walk anyway, barring anything too major.

To carpool: meet in the southwest corner of the West Main Meijer parking lot (6660 W Main St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009).

To meet at the preserve: from M-43 and the traffic circle at Maple Grove Corners, take CR-689 north to the T-stop at 8th Ave. Turn right (east) on 8th Ave, and look for the preserve on the south side. If you get to 68th St, you’ve gone too far.


A Quick Peek at the Last Three Weeks

October 19
Teaming up with local preserve stewards Bob and Connie, seven Warriors blazed a trail into the core wetland that makes up the Bakertown Preserve. After taking some notes on the size and stature of our enemy (glossy buckthorn), we tucked in, began sawing, lopping, treating, and stacking these wetland invaders. After just a couple of hours we could appreciate the new light reaching the wetland understory, where sedges and wildflowers will surely pop up next spring. We admired McCoy Creek, and assured the buckthorn that we'd be back to finish them off over the coming years!

October 12
In the spirit of the harvest season, seven Warriors donned buckets tied around their waists with paper bags and markers in tow at Chipman Preserve to do some seed collecting. Harry Bird and newbie Kyle Martin took a side mission to plant "rough blazingstar" bulbs in the developing prairie area, while the rest of us traipsed through the golds, oranges, and browns and a fall savanna landscape. Species like wild bergamot, three-awned grass, stiff goldenrod, leadplant and more were tucked away in labeled bags to be cleaned and stored on another day. After looking at our pants at the end of the workday, we realized that we were all collecting seeds "hands free" the whole time with a mass of different tick trefoil seeds stubbornly sticking to us.

October 5
Nine Warriors blew leaves, nailed trail diamonds, pruned branches, lined trails, and generally spruced up a new and gorgeous sections of the "mainstem" trail at the Black River Preserve. We just skirted the rain, took time to admire what appeared to be forest sprites on beech trees (actually beech blight woolly aphids), and made the new preserve shine in anticipation of it's grand opening which took place with great success on October 15.

— Mitch