This year we are taking some time to get out into the preserves with the community. Whether it is to learn about a creature or plant in the preserve or to share the unique beauty of each preserve with community members.
May 17th 6:00pm — Wildflowers at Szok with Chippewa Nature Center- join Interpretive Naturalist Jeanne Henderson from the Chippewa Nature Center for a hike to observe the native wildflowers!
May 24th 5:00pm — Vernal Pool Hike at Riverview Natural Area with Sara – Join Sara at Riverview to hike the first loop and explore the vernal pools near the trail. Sara will go into the importance of the vernal pools and which animals rely on them to survive. Wear waterproof boots.
June 19th 6:30pm — Dog Hike at Riverview Natural Area – Meet Little Forks Staff members and their dogs! We invite community members to have a puppy play date and hike through Riverview. We ask to keep dogs on a leash during this hike. People without dogs are welcome to join as well.
June 28th 7:00pm — Sunset Hike and Campfire with AmeriCorps Member Ted at Riverview Natural Area – Meet Ted at the Riverview north entrance off of 5 Mile Road where he will lead a hike near sunset and end with a campfire where he will share stories of backpacking adventures and others are welcome to share their adventure stories with the group. Bring a chair/blanket, flash light or headlamp.
July 19th 6:30pm — Senior Services Social at Averill Preserve with Andrea- Join Senior Services and Little Forks Conservancy for a walk along the new trail. Contact Andrea for more details.
July 21st 10:30am — Salamander Hike at Riverview Natural Area with Interpretive Naturalist Michelle Fournier from the Chippewa Nature Center to look under logs and learn how to use the app Herp Atlas!
July 25th 5:00pm — Averill Preserve Hike – Join Little Forks Staff to see the completed all access path and all the new features.
August 11th 10am Ferns & Fungi at Forestview Natural Area with Chippewa Nature Center- join Interpretive Naturalist Jeanne Henderson from the Chippewa Nature Center for a hike to observe the variety of ferns and fungus growing at Forestview
September 13th 6:00pm — Tour the New Preserve in Gladwin County! – Come take a look at the newest preserve at Little Forks Conservancy. A staff member will show you the progress so far and what to look forward to in the coming years.
October 19th 5:00pm — Fall Color Hike at Forestview Natural Area- As the weather cools off, join us at Forestview to take in all the fall foliage.
Little Forks hopes the entire community will get out to the preserves for at least one of these hikes and finds something new to enjoy right outside of the city.
Imagine not being able to stand on the banks of the Tittabawassee River to watch a bald eagle swoop by — or not having the chance to cross the path of a turtle meandering along as you explore a trail.
Many people in our community can’t enjoy those sights at Little Forks Conservancy’s Preserves because they aren’t physically able to hike the grass or trails.
“Visitors who enjoy Midland County Parks’ new accessible parking area and shelter on the boundary of the Averill Preserve may not be able to experience this beautiful preserve just steps away,” said Board President Jon DeGroot.
Thanks to donations from local foundations and members like you, Little Forks Conservancy has changed that.
At the Averill Preserve, we've added a hard surface trail to enable people with wheelchairs or families with strollers to easily explore the beautiful, historic preserve. The All Access Path leads to a open area with a Nature Play Area for children to explore nature in a safe place.
As part of this project:
Jon added, “We believe that this project will add to County Parks’ investment and create an inviting experience for all visitors to these properties.”
Once the largest timber banking grounds in the world, the property has been restored over many years to its current state.
“Of all our properties, the Averill Preserve has been the most impacted by previous uses of the land,” said Elan Lipschitz, director of land conservation. “I’m very excited about some of the opportunities for habitat restoration we have planned along the new trail.
In the late fall of 2017, what was once George and Sue Lane’s property in Gladwin County was donated to The Little Forks Conservancy. This was a collaboration between the Conservancy, the Leon P. Martuch Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and Chippewa Watershed Conservancy. George was a longtime Conservancy supporter, a former board member and a conservation easement donor.
The Lane property is 270 acres with three quarters of a mile of frontage on the North Branch of the Cedar River. The property includes important forestland habitat, open grasslands, and scenic views of the surrounding area. George and Sue’s stewardship ethic led to dramatic improvements to the property, specifically regarding wildlife habitat, removing sediment from the river and controlling erosion along the river. The North Branch of the Cedar River is one of a limited number of cold-water trout streams located within the northern reaches of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. The Lane family initially protected the property with a conservation easement and now the property will be a nature preserve to not only benefit the natural resources of the land, but also the local community.
With George and Sue’s vision for their land in mind and with partners like Trout Unlimited and Chippewa Watershed Conservancy alongside of us, we cannot wait to see what projects we can accomplish on the first Little Forks preserve outside of Midland county, a strategic goal of the last two strategic plans for the organization. The riparian corridor will be managed by the Leon P. Martuch Chapter of Trout Unlimited with the Conservancy managing the remainder of the property and Chippewa Watershed Conservancy holding the conservation easements.
In 2018, we began building trails, installed boundary markers, removed an old house and installed a parking area. The property can be accessed from a parking area located on Shearer Road approximately 1/3 mile south of M-18. “The George and Sue Lane Preserve has a lot of potential; we are starting with a mile of trail but hope to expand in the years to come” said Sara Huetteman, Little Forks’ Stewardship Coordinator.