Conservation Planning

The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy recognizes the importance of strategic conservation planning and the benefits of creating partnerships to create effective and long-term conservation projects.  SWMLC has developed a collaborative public process which includes establishing a stakeholder committee to assist in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping analysis and planning to identify priority conservation areas and targets.  This process has allowed SWMLC to identify the most significant conservation areas for protection of wildlife habitat, endangered and threatened plant and animal communities, and water resources within the nine-county region. 

In recent years, SWMLC has conserved many properties that were identified through strategic conservation planning processes.  A few notable examples include Spirit Springs Sanctuary (Rocky River Watershed Strategic Conservation Plan), Ford Farm Conservation Easement (Augusta Creek Watershed Plan), Black River Preserve (Black River Watershed Strategic Conservation Plan) and Eureka! Conservation Easement (Paw Paw River Watershed Strategic Conservation Plan). 

Over the past ten years, SWMLC has completed or participated in conservation planning projects for:  Prairieville Creek — part of the Gull Lake Watershed (view Executive Summary), Dowagiac River Watershed, Black River Watershed, Four Township Water Resources Council, Paw Paw River Watershed (view Executive Summary), Rocky River Watershed, Michigan Dune Alliance Coastal Areas, Mitchell’s Satyr Butterfly Priority Habitat Protection, and Barry State Game Area (view Executive Summary).   

Below are five examples of conservation planning projects in which SWMLC is actively involved.

1.     Kalamazoo River Watershed Strategic Conservation Plan.  A collaborative project with many regional partners, including the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council and University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.  The primary objective is to identify and prioritize the most critical parcels to protect for water quality in the Kalamazoo River Watershed.

2.     Wetland Partnership Project for the St. Joseph River Watershed.  A bi-state, multiple-partner effort coordinated by the Friends of the St. Joe River Association to understand and rank the functions of remaining wetlands.  SWMLC leads the outreach portion of the partnership to convene workshops targeting landowners who own the most significant, high-functioning wetlands to inform them of conservation options and conservation partners to work with.

3.     Glass Creek Watershed Protection.  Funded through the Clean Water Act to protect pristine land and water resources in the Glass Creek Watershed and sustain exceptional water quality.

4.     Augusta Creek Watershed Protection.  Funded through the Clean Water Act to protect pristine land and water resources in the Augusta Creek Watershed and sustain exceptional water quality.

5.     Headwaters and Greenways:  A Strategic Conservation Plan for the Southern Kalamazoo Moraine and Jones State Game Areas.  SWMLC is in the early stages of convening partners across parts of Cass and St. Joseph counties to conserve wildlife greenways and critical headwater stream systems of five unique watersheds that emanate in and around the Jones State Game Areas.

Click here to view an illustrative conservation plan summary for the Rocky River Watershed.

[Augusta Creek]