A vital addition to the beloved Wilcox-Palmer-Shah Nature Preserve along Lake Michigan promises to safeguard critical wildlife habitat, water quality and scenic views.

Situated just north of Elk Rapids, the current preserve already protects over 1,000 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline and roughly 58 acres of coastal dunes and forests, including a globally rare dune and swale complex. This diverse landscape, along with its proximity to Lake Michigan, provides crucial habitat for numerous plant and animal species, including the threatened pitcher’s thistle and Lake Huron tansy.

Today, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) aims to expand this ecologically significant place by adding an 11-acre parcel that will further protect the sensitive species and ecosystems that call the preserve home.

The parcel is located east of US-31, directly across from the existing preserve and adjacent to another potential 10-acre addition. It boasts exceptional ecological quality, featuring healthy mesic northern forest and northern hardwood swamp habitats. A preliminary floristic quality index, used to determine botanical species diversity, indicates that the property’s score of 43.5 surpasses the statewide average (20) and the threshold to be considered significant (35) in Michigan.

Protection of this property also plays a vital role in safeguarding Lake Michigan’s water quality. By preventing future impervious surfaces and other development, the land’s intact, healthy wetlands can continue serving as important filtering systems, removing sediment, nutrients and pollutants from water before it reaches the lake.

In addition, the protection of this property would extend the scenic corridor along the highway north of Elk Rapids, enhancing the region’s natural beauty for generations to come.

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