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The Chris Thompson Memorial Preserve Project

When our executive director, Chris Thompson, passed away unexpectedly a little more than two years ago, Chikaming Open Lands' Board and staff quickly resolved that we would seek to acquire a new nature preserve in his memory; one that would not only be ecologically significant, but would provide an outdoor space for members of the community to enjoy.

This spring, we found it: a 49-acre tract of open space located on Warren Woods Road in Chikaming Township, with large swaths of open fields and woodland, as well as frontage on the Galien River. Upon acquiring the property, Chikaming Open Lands will manage it as a nature preserve, forever protecting the natural landscape. The preserve will be open to the public for outdoor recreation, providing not only local residents, but the thousands of visitors who flock here each year a place to enjoy the natural beauty of this area.

Our plans for the property include developing a trail system, improving public access, and restoring the open fields to prairie. Offering access to the Galien River is another possibility we will explore for the future. 

Completing the acquisition of this land requires an investment of $555,000. Chikaming Open Lands has committed one-third of that cost, using funds previously received from The Pokagon Fund for ongoing land acquisition. This, in addition to individual gifts we've already received in support of a Chris Thompson memorial project, means that we currently have more than half of that amount in-hand. To secure the remaining funds, we are seeking grants from foundations and organizations as well as gifts from individuals. We have until September 30 to raise the full amount to purchase the property.

Chris was passionate about preserving land in our community—for environmental and ecological reasons, of course, but his vision went further than that. He felt strongly that Chikaming Open Lands’ natural areas should be welcoming and available for everyone in our community to enjoy; and that our conservation goals should not just be in the service of trees and rivers and wildlife, but also of people—making their lives better by enriching the places where they live, work and play.

The acquisition of this property will allow us to create a welcoming place where our entire community can enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes that make this region so special. We can think of no more fitting way to honor Chris' memory.

Make a gift to acquire the Chris Thompson Memorial Preserve:

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If you have questions or would like further information about this project, please contact us at (269) 405-1006.