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Wau-Ke-Na, William Erby Smith Preserve
Location: Ganges Township, Allegan County
Size: 365 acres
Accessibility: Open to the public.
Trails: No trails. Visitors may walk or cross-country ski the south tract. Leashed pets are welcome.
Directions: Wau-Ke-Na is situated 1 mile north of Glenn. From Hwy. 196/31, take the Glenn exit (exit 30) to Blue Star Memorial Hwy. (also County Road A2). Go southwest about ½ mile on Blue Star Hwy. to where 70 th St. (Lakeshore Drive) merges with Blue Star Hwy. Make a hard turn north onto 70th St. and go about ½ mile. The gravel entrance to the preserve will be on the west side of 70th St.
William Erby Smith's bequest of Wau-Ke-Na ("forest-by-the-water") is the largest of Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy's preserves and includes forests, fields, streams, ponds, bluffs, and beaches. Wau-Ke-Na gets its name from the rich forest along the shores of Lake Michigan that makes up the northern tract of the preserve. These woods are home to magnificent specimens of red oak, tulip tree, yellow birch, American beech, sugar maple, hemlock, sassafras, and more. On the southern tract, Mr. Smith spent a great deal of time and resources improving wildlife habitat, creating wetlands, and sowing grasslands. Fields of prairie grasses and wildflowers provide foraging and nesting areas for rare birds like sedge wrens, bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks.
Wau-Ke-Na is a special place for wildlife. Building on Mr. Smith's efforts, SWMLC continues to create wildlife habitat in the southern tract. On the northern tract, efforts are underway to enhance and expand the beech-maple forest by transitioning the pine plantations to hardwoods, providing better food and shelter for wildlife.
To read the executive summary of our master plan for Wau-Ke-Na, click here.