SWMLC Continues to Protect Gull Lake Water Quality

This spring, SWMLC worked with landowner Craig Shumaker to amend his 20-acre conservation easement (one of two he donated to SWMLC in 2010).  Craig added six more acres to his easement, protecting an additional 500 feet of frontage along the west side of Prairieville Creek.  Prairieville Creek is the primary surface water source for Gull Lake, providing 21% of Gull Lake’s total water supply.  This now provides continuous protection to Prairieville Creek from M43 to a quarter-mile upstream, with adjoining easements providing nearly complete coverage all the way upstream to Mud Lake.

"This land is important," said Mr. Shumaker. "It is incredible that it has been able to remain undeveloped and truly is a beautiful showcase of Mother Nature.  Prairieville Creek is a hidden gem that is important not only to me, but for wildlife habitat, fisheries, and the overall health of Gull Lake.  I am proud that my family has been been able to provide a legacy to protect Gull Lake, with deep roots of many generations having lived in the Gull Lake area and enjoyed its natural beauty.  I look forward to working with SWMLC and supporting their efforts for years to come."

Altogether, Craig has protected 46 acres of land along Prairieville Creek. This additional property adds to the 300 acres of land already conserved along the two-mile-long creek that flows into the north end of Gull Lake at Prairieville Township Park.  Keeping the stream corridor in forest and wetlands provides a natural buffer that protects water quality from nutrients and sediment.

Prairieville Creek is the only spawning tributary of the Gull Lake coldwater fishery, providing habitat for many species of native fish.  The land surrounding the creek provides significant groundwater recharge and is vital to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife as a year-round resource. 

The Prairieville Creek and Gull Lake watershed is one of SWMLC’s priority conservation areas which we work on with the Four Townships Waters Resources Council and the Gull Lake Quality Organization. During the past eight years, with funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Kalamazoo Community Foundation, SWMLC developed and implemented a comprehensive conservation approach of land protection and landowner participation to protect this watershed and ensure its long-term health.

[Photo by Peter D. Ter Louw]

Wednesday Workday Warriors Begin Season 13

Join the warriors in their annual pilgrimage to Kesling Nature Preserve on May 27, traipsing among the rich wildflowers and yanking some dastardly garlic mustard along the way. Kesling sits along the Galien River and hosts an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, including southern specialties such as prairie trillium and yellow-throated warbler.

Bring gloves and water, and meet at the northeast corner of KVCC’s parking lot to arrange carpool plans at 8 a.m.

Preview – Wednesday June 3, we will be making a run out to the wonderful Myers Preserve on G Avenue in Kalamazoo to close in on the garlic mustard season, pulling in the beautiful white oak woods.

[Photo by Kristi]

May and June Tike Hikes

Board member Jen Lau has generously offered to continue the popular tike hikes!  All hikes are on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. and depend on weather conditions for that day.

Tike hikes last about 1 hour at typical toddler pace which includes lots of stops, wandering in the wrong direction, pausing to pick up sticks, etc.

In May, the hikes will be at Chipman Preserve except for May 17:  there will be a Storybook Hike there the day before (May 16).

During June, tike hikes will move to Bow in the Clouds Preserve except for June 7:  there will be an afternoon Storybook Hike there instead of a morning tike hike.

If you have any questions, call our office at (269) 324-1600.

Forest Fiends at Kesling Nature Preserve, June 13

Kesling Nature Preserve in Three Oaks, with the lively Galien River working its way alongside spectacular steep ravines and rich floodplains, has exceptionally high biodiversity for a preserve that size (52 acres), including several rare species for the state. Understory wildflowers are a striking component of this biodiversity, from the sharp-lobed hepatica to Jacob’s ladder to prairie trillium. However, these wildflowers are struggling in their attempts to expand from older high-quality forest to younger recovering forest from a wall of invasive shrubs blocking their path.

Come help us on the front lines of forest restoration, cutting back invasive shrubs (fiends!) to allow wildflowers and young trees to gain a foothold in this beautiful setting.

Saturday, June 13, 9 a.m. to Noon, at Kesling Nature Preserve in Three Oaks, Berrien County.  

Email Mitch at lettow@swmlc.org to let him know you're coming and to check for carpool options.

Celebrate Local Food and Conservation at Bonamego Woods!

Please join us in honoring Louis Bonamego and his commitment to conservation. The event will feature a morning bird walk, brief dedication ceremony, local food and refreshments, then a nature and foraging hike led by members of Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones and Bonamego Farms’ own Nabe, the “Queen of the Weeds," as she is known to local farmers’ market patrons.

Sunday, May 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bonamego Woods CE in Van Buren County. Optional bird walk begins at 9 a.m.; the celebration begins at 10 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to pass.

Meet us at the Bonamego Woods CE on the north side of Red Arrow Highway (east of 48th St., west of 46 ½ St., Lawrence Township, Van Buren County). Look for the SWMLC Event signs on Red Arrow Highway.

Please RSVP to cmdargitz@swmlc.org or (269) 324-1600.