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The Merritt Family Preserve

Chikaming Open Lands received a donation of 35 acres of land in Chikaming Township on August 4, 2017. The property, consisting of high-quality forest and wetland, will be owned and managed by COL as a nature preserve.  Located on Mydra Road adjacent to the Chikaming Township Park and Preserve, the new preserve is our 12th in the area.

“This property was especially appealing to us with its beech-maple forest, fishing pond and some really nice wetlands,” says Executive Director Ryan Postema. “Berrien County has lost more than 50 percent of its original wetlands, which are critical to improving water quality, protecting wildlife habitat and minimizing potential flooding. For this reason, protecting wetlands in the area is very important.”  

Its location next to the Chikaming Township Park and Preserve has the additional benefit of creating an extended greenway in the township, which Postema points out is beneficial to protecting natural habitat for wildlife. Public access to the property will be allowed and plans are underway to identify the recreational uses of the preserve.

The property was donated by the landowner, Meryle Merritt, and will be named The Merritt Family Preserve. It was dedicated to the memory of her late husband, Larry Merritt, at a public ceremony on August 19, 2017. “Larry loved puttering around ‘in his woods,’” says Merritt. “It's appropriate that the acreage remain in its natural state, [and] we are grateful that we were able to make that happen.” 

WSBT22 did a feature on the preserve donation during their August 7 broadcast! Watch it here.