The Edward and Elizabeth Leonard Wildlife Preserve
Chikaming Open Lands (COL) acquired a new nature preserve in Chikaming Township on December 18, 2018. The 108 acre property located on Lakeside and Warren Woods Roads, consists of mature woodland, wetlands, and agricultural land was donated by Elizabeth Leonard Rould.
Originally acquired in the 1970’s, Rould and her late husband, Ed Leonard, lived on the property for 30 plus years. She says she spent much of her time there walking the woods with her dogs, observing the wildlife. "It’s very important to me to know that other people, young and old, will be able to walk through it and really enjoy it just as I did,” said Rould. “Living there was a gift to me. I wanted to make a gift back to the community, for the enjoyment of everyone.” The preserve will be named The Edward and Elizabeth Leonard Wildlife Preserve.
The new preserve is located in close proximity to other protected properties like Chikaming Township Park and Preserve and COL’s Merritt Family Preserve. Connecting natural areas like this creates “greenways” that are beneficial to protecting natural habitat for wildlife.
Located on Lakeside and Warren Woods Road The Edward and Elizabeth Leonard Wildlife Preserve will be open to the public for outdoor recreation. COL's plan for the property include developing a system of hiking trails, improving public access, and restoring the natural habitat.
“We were very excited to accept such an expansive tract of high-quality forest, particularly in such a desirable location,” said COL Executive Director Ryan Postema. “There aren’t many undeveloped forested properties of this size remaining in Chikaming Township, so we feel really fortunate to be able to protect it in its natural state.”
Currently The Edward and Elizabeth Leonard Wildlife Preserve does not have hiking trails. COL is in the planning process for a trail system, stay tuned!