Wetland Restoration Area 1
Wetland Restoration Area
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake



Wetland Restoration Grant

The Kalamazoo Nature Center is pleased to announce that the Conservation Stewardship department has been awarded a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. Grant money will be used to restore approximately 1,500 acres of prairie fen and wetlands and impact an additional 500 acres of associated upland habitats within the Kalamazoo River Watershed. The goal of the restoration is to remove invasive plant species and improve the habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered plants and animals. The Kalamazoo Nature Center is partnering with Fort Custer Training Center, the Calhoun County Conservation District, the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute.

Prairie fens and the associated uplands, historically oak savanna, are critical habitats for several state and federally listed species such as the Karner Blue and Mitchell’s Satyr butterflies, Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, Eastern Box Turtle, and the Cerulean Warbler. Altogether this restoration project will improve habitat for 16 state and federally listed plant and animal species.  Restoration techniques will include biological surveys, invasive species removal, and introduction of prescribed fire. 

Work began in spring 2011and will continue through 2013. As work progresses, the Nature Center and the project partners will hold field days during which the public can visit the wetlands and learn about the importance of wetlands and the plants and animals that they support.

Wet Meadow and Tamarack

Why are wetlands so important?
Wetlands are important habitats for many rare animals and plants. Beaver are key wetland engineers and help maintain open conditions by building dams and causing flooding and also by chewing and killing trees and shrubs that would otherwise shade out sun-loving wetland plants. Muskrat build lodges in wetlands which are later used by Canada geese for nesting. Sandhill cranes, marsh wrens and many other birds also use wetlands for nesting.  In addition to providing homes for many Michigan animals, wetlands also filter groundwater and contribute to clean drinking water for people.

A Prairie fen is a specific type of wetland which occurs in glacially deposited, mineral-rich soils. These wetlands are found only in southern Michigan and in other glaciated Midwestern states. As groundwater flows through these glacial soils it absorbs calcium and magnesium and becomes more alkaline. This alkalinity is the reason that plants such as sedges thrive. Other plants found in these alkaline wetlands include hardstem bulrush, broad-leaved cat-tail, purple milkweed, white lady’s slipper, queen-of-the-prairie, rattlesnake master and common arrowhead.

In the past, fire was an important event in wetlands and the surrounding uplands. Fire cleared brush, shrubs and trees and returned nutrients to the soil and allowed sunlight to reach to ground. Wetland and savanna plants are adapted to fires and thrive after a fire has swept through. Due to development, drainage ditches and the absence of fire, most prairie fens have filled in and now exist as swamp forests, closed canopy-oak forests agriculture, or rural residential development.

Click on the icons below for more information on the five partner organizations involved in the GLRI Wetland Restoration grant:

Calhoun Conservation District       Fort Custer Training Center       Kalamazoo Nature Center       Pierce Cedar Creek        Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
View a map of the partner areas restoring habitats of Southwest Michigan endangered species

Calhoun Conservation District

Calhoun County Conservation District

Hart's Lake
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Hart's Lake is adjacent to the Fort Custer Military Base in Battle Creek, Michigan. The property which encompasses 445 acres plus a 110 acre lake was deeded from the United States Military to the City of Battle Creek in the 1970's. The area is great for bird watching, hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, kayaking, and enjoying and exploring nature. The Hart's Lake property is a pristine natural resources area and a marvelous example of pre-settlement vegetation with a large and untouched lake at the heart of it all. The public has access to the lower two-thirds of the property and deed restrictions stipulate passive, non-motorized use by the public. This area will continue to be managed in the interest of biological integrity where citizens can enjoy hands-on experiences rarely afforded to those in southern Michigan.


Fort Custer Training Center

Fort Custer Training CenterFort Custer Training Center
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Fort Custer Training Center was built in 1917 for military training during World War I and in 1971; Fort Custer Recreation Area was created through a donation of 3,000 acres to the State Parks. The Recreation Area is known for its beautiful hiking, mountain biking and bridle trails. Fort Custer is an important wildlife habitat area in southwest Michigan for two reasons. The Fort has been excluded from most commercial and residential development since just after the turn of the century and it encompasses a whopping 30,000 contiguous acres. Within this acreage, unique examples of historical plant communities still exist and thrive with proper management. Oak barrens, sedge meadows and old growth forest are some of the now rare habitat types that can be found at the Fort.

Kalamazoo Nature Center

Kalamazoo Nature CenterThe Kalamazoo Nature Center
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Since 1960, the Kalamazoo Nature Center has been striving to inspire people to care for the environment by providing experiences that lead them to understand their connection to the natural world. The Kalamazoo Nature Center is located 4 miles north of Kalamazoo, and encompasses 1,136 acres of diverse habitats. These include an old growth beech‑maple forest, a floodplain forest, a marsh, ponds, prairie fens, a trout stream and its entire watershed and some beautiful examples of native Tallgrass prairies. KNC also operates the Delano Farm, an historic pioneer farm and an organic Community Supported Agriculture Farm (CSA) which supplies 100 shareholders with fresh vegetables as well as a direct connection to the source of their food. There is also a 25 acre Arboretum as well as hummingbird and butterfly gardens.

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute

Pierce Cedar Creek InstitutePierce Cedar Creek Institute
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The main parcel of the Institute’s property was initially preserved from development in 1952 by Dr. H. Lewis Jr. and his wife, Jean Batts. Dr. Batts was a visionary conservationist and cofounder of the Kalamazoo Nature Center and the Environmental Defense Fund. Willard and Jessie Pierce purchased the property from Dr. and Mrs. Batts in 1998, and Pierce Cedar Creek Institute opened its doors to the public in February 2001. On the 661 acres of Institute property, upland forest, wetlands, fens, upland fields, constructed prairie and open water can be found. There are nearly 7 miles of hiking trails on the Institute’s property. PCCI’s natural resources are the main attraction for visitors and researchers and are maintained and improved for the purpose of interpreting the natural environment and the relationship people have to it.

Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy

Southwest Michigan Land ConservancySouthwest Michigan Land Conservancy
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Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy was created by Michigan citizens in 1991. The Conservancy is dedicated to protecting natural areas, historic sites and open spaces in nine southwest Michigan counties. The SWMLC works with land owners and organizations to protect land important to wildlife and people; and provides opportunities and sites for education, research, outdoor recreation, and nature study. 
Bow in the Clouds preserve is located in the city of Kalamazoo. It was donated to SWMLC in 2007 by the Sisters of St. Joseph, Congregation of St. Joseph. Bow in the Clouds is a 60 acre preserve that encompasses a pristine stream and surrounding wetlands. This lovely site within the city limits features a boardwalk that allows visitors to walk through the wetland preserve with ease. Bow in the Clouds is a unique example of the open savanna and sedge meadow that historically was found throughout southwest Michigan.

Kalamazoo Nature Center  •  7000 North Westnedge Avenue  •  Kalamazoo, MI 49009
PHONE (269) 381-1574  •  FAX (269) 381-2557 

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