*Please note: In addition to not having a parking area or trail system, the High Bluff Dunes Nature Sanctuary is located off a private road. If you choose to access this sanctuary, please approach the property on foot, use caution, and avoid areas that seem unsafe.
The High Bluff Dunes Nature Sanctuary is a high-quality example of a perched Great Lakes dune system. It contains 22 acres of coastal moraine bluff and boreal forest habitats, as well as 563 feet of frontage along Lake Michigan. By adding a 10-acre parcel to the sanctuary, the Conservancy has an opportunity to further protect this ecologically significant habitat.
The proposed addition is situated to the north of the current sanctuary, between Lake Michigan and M-22. The state designates the majority of the property as Critical Dune, which regulates certain activities but does not strictly prohibit development.
Like the existing sanctuary, the property is home to a variety of plants that exclusively grow on Great Lakes dunes, including Pitcher’s thistle, a state and federally-threatened species, and the state-threatened Lake Huron locust.
In addition to the protection of these sensitive species, the property’s preservation would safeguard critical feeding and resting habitat for many birds that use Lake Michigan’s coast as a migration corridor. Numerous rare bird species, including the state-threatened Caspian tern and merlin, and the state-endangered peregrine falcon, have been documented along this stretch of shoreline.
In terms of water quality, the property’s protection would safeguard an additional 300 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline and protect the moraine bluff, which is currently experiencing significant erosion due to its steep slopes and recent, historically high water levels. The property also contains a unique spring that emerges from the bluff face and flows into the lake.
Additionally, the protection of Lake Michigan coastal dune systems is a priority under numerous federal programs, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, and the Department of Interior Joint Venture Program.