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Edward and Elizabeth Leonard Wildlife Preserve

On December 18, 2018, Chikaming Open Lands (COL) acquired a new nature preserve on Lakeside Road in Chikaming Township. The 108 acre property, donated by Elizabeth Leonard Rould, consists of mature woodlandwetlands, and agricultural land.

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.” In recognition of the generous gift, the preserve will be named “Edward and Elizabeth Leonard Wildlife Preserve”.

The new preserve will be open to the public for passive recreation in the future. Currently, plans for public access, management, and use of the property are in development.

The property is located in close proximity to other nature preserves 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. 

 “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 fortunate to be able to protect it in its natural state.”

COL completed the real estate transaction with the assistance of grant funding previously received from The Pokagon Fund.

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!

This preserve was acquired in part with funding from The Pokagon Fund.