Burtchville Twp. — MI If you grew up living near the shores of Lake Huron, you may have experienced the fascinating aspects that make up the region’s coastal forests. The large sand ridges and wetland swales along with diverse forests support many uncommon species and migratory birds which are a delight to nature enthusiasts.
Bill Collins, Ft. Gratiot native and Executive Director of the Thumb Land Conservancy, wants the public to have access to these unique coastal wildernesses, and the Conservancy’s newly acquired piece of property in Burtchville Twp. is a major step toward making that a reality.
“The coastal forest is a big part of what makes the Blue Water Area a beautiful place to visit, yet few understand its character and significance because there is so little public access,” said Collins.
The Thumb Land Conservancy and its partners just purchased a 42-Acre parcel of land on the north side of Metcalf Road. This parcel will become the Bidwell Preserve, and there are plans to create a trail system within the preserve that will eventually become part of a larger proposed park, the Southern Lake Huron Coastal Park, which hopes to connect other preserves in the area with the Ft. Gratiot County Park and Lakeport State Park.
The Southern Lake Huron Coastal Park will allow the public to experience all the wonders of the coastal forest from the inside.
“Imagine walking or biking for 4.5 miles through the forest, hearing the waves on the shore of Lake Huron, feeling the cool lake air, stopping to observe or read about the unique plants and animals, and ending your journey at Lakeport State Park or someday, continuing into Sanilac County and around the Thumb. This is what the Thumb Land Conservancy and its partners want to give the public,” said Collins.
The Bidwell Sanctuary acquisition was made possible by a $150,000 match grant from The Carls Foundation of Bloomfield Hills along with grants from The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Consumers Energy Foundation, Cargill Inc. and Cargill Salt of St. Clair, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, The Franklin H. and Nancy S. Moore Donor Advised Fund, SEMCO Energy Gas Company, and several individual donors.
The Conservancy is planning to hold a public dedication ceremony on October 3rd along with the Blue Water Indigenous Alliance of Port Huron (BWIAPH.org) during which the preserve will be given an Anishinaabe name to honor the original Native American inhabitants of our region.
The conservancy is seeking further assistance through volunteer labor and donation of materials to develop the park entrance and trail on the Bidwell Sanctuary. They also need individuals to help with long-term up-keep and planning. If you are interested, please contact them at 810-346-2584 or mail@ThumbLand.org.
Reporting for WGRT – Jessie Wiegand