SWMLC Receives $600,000 DEQ Grant to Protect Paw Paw River Watershed


SWMLC and a partnership of regional conservation organizations have been awarded a three-year $600,000 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grant for its “Paw Paw Priority Wetland/Riparian Conservation Project". This award will enable SWMLC and partners to permanently conserve 700 acres of highest priority conservation areas in the Paw Paw River Watershed (PPRW), develop urban best management practices for a targeted non-point pollution sources in the PPRW’s Ox Creek sub-watershed, and work to initiate agricultural best management practices with agricultural landowners in the Ox Creek sub-watershed.

With the award, SWMLC will have the opportunity to protect over six miles of frontage along the Paw Paw River, two miles of additional frontage along tributary streams and lakes, and 300 acres of critical wetlands. The Paw Paw River Watershed is recognized by multiple State of Michigan departments as one of the most ecologically diverse areas in all of Southern Michigan. The watershed has been a high priority for SWMLC since its inception in 1991, and features at least 50 known state- listed plant and animal species as well as three Federally endangered species.

The project partnership includes SWMLC, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Sarett Nature Center, Two Rivers Coalition, Berrien Conservation District and several private landowners and “conservation investors”.

(Photo by Ivan LaBianca.)

Join the Wednesday Workday Warriors!

Anyone is welcome to pitch in to help us 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 conserveland@swmlc.org.

Wednesday, July 29, Bow in the Clouds Preserve, Kalamazoo

We will travel to Bow in the Clouds Preserve to cut back the invasive Glossy buckthorn on the second half of the peninsula by the "Swan Pond." We need to get ahead of this aggressive invasive to make room for native plants to thrive. Meet at the Bow in the Clouds parking lot on Nazareth at 9am.

Bring the usual: work gloves, bug spray, drinking water, and maybe a snack.

To carpool: No carpool this time.

Directions: Bow in the Clouds Preserve parking lot is located on Nazareth Road just south of Parchmount Avenue in Kalamazoo. Look for the big gray and white barn

Upcoming Wednesday Warrior Workdays
(details to follow as we get closer to each date)

August 5: Hidden Pond Preserve
– Cut out autumn olive from prairie planting that has skipped a burning year. Use bonus time (if there is any) to collect seed
– Meet at northeast corner Meijer's parking lot, Gull Rd. at 8:15 a.m.

August 12: Jeptha Lake Fen
– Replace rickety boards from boardwalk. Maybe cut some shrubs back to provide a “framed” view of the lake for visitors 
– Meet at Meijer's parking lot on West Main at 8:30 a.m.


[Photo by Kristi]


Summer's Evening Soundwalk at Bow in the Clouds Preserve

A summer day's effortless fade to twilight provides the backdrop for an Evening Soundwalk at Bow in the Clouds Preserve. Please join Nate Fuller, SWMLC's Conservation & Stewardship Director, and soundscape ecologist Dr. Sharon Gill, for an acoustic exploration of the preserve's habitats and their natural sound patterns. It's a fascinating way to experience this beautiful preserve.

Note:  Because staying quiet is essential to perceiving the sounds of nature, this field trip is best for adults and older children.

Wednesday, July 29, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Bow in the Clouds Preserve, Kalamazoo.

Please RSVP early, as space is limited.  To reserve your spot, call Miko Dargitz at the SWMLC office (269-324-1600) or email her at cmdargitz@swmlc.org.

The preserve is located on Nazareth Road, on the east side of the city of Kalamazoo, approximately half a mile north of Gull Road. The entrance is on the left (west) -- look for the weathered barn and SWMLC event signs. It’s a steep drive along a sharp curve, so please use caution.

Upcoming Workdays: Access and Ecology

SWMLC has focused in recent years on providing public access to the beautiful natural areas that we all work to protect, maintain, and restore.  Continuing with the theme of public access and ecological health, we will be working on trails and habitat at KL Avenue Nature Preserve this year.  With increasing foot traffic as we provide access to more people, and the sandy soils of KL, we will need to carefully route and stabilize the preserve’s trails, while simultaneously managing some invasive plants.  Come help with our new trail system and oak savanna habitats for future visitors to enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at KL Avenue Preserve, Oshtemo Township, Kalamazoo County.

Directions: From Kalamazoo, head west on West Main St. (aka M-43) until you reach 4th Street. Turn left (south) onto 4th St., continue about a mile or so until you reach KL Avenue, where you will take a left at the stop sign. The preserve will be just ahead on the right. Look for the SWMLC sign and turn onto the unpaved road to the parking area.

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

8th Annual Art Walk at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area

A beautiful new location for this very popular event!

Saturday, August 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, on the lakeshore near South Haven

Come see the beauty of woods and water captured in paint as members of the Plein Air Artists of West Michigan, Ottawa Shores Plein Air and the Great Lakes Plein Air Painters Association create their works of art in real time during the 8th Annual Art Walk event. Walk the trails through woods and meadows, visit the beach, chat with artists as they work, and learn about our plans to create public access at this historic preserve. 

The 2016 Painted Sanctuary Calendar, featuring plein air paintings of many SWMLC preserves, will make its debut at this event. Purchase a 2016 Painted Sanctuary Calendar (just $10) and you will automatically be entered to win an original painting by Richard Jordan, of the Plein Air Artists of West Michigan! Raffle begins at 3:30 p.m.

Painting Demonstrations
Enjoy plein air painting demonstrations throughout the day by some of the area’s top landscape artists.

Kathleen Kalinowski – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Richard Jordan – 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Artist TBD – 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Support the arts while supporting land protection!
Some of the best plein air artists in Michigan will have paintings on display and for sale. You can even purchase paintings that the artists are creating during the event. A portion of all painting sales will benefit SWMLC. 

Directions to Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, South Haven, MI
The preserve is located approximately 4 miles south of South Haven. From the intersection of M-43 and Blue Star Highway, travel south on Blue Star for 3.2 miles. Turn right onto 77th St. for about 1⁄4 mile, then left onto 18th Ave. The preserve is on the right. Please follow the posted signs for parking.