Please note that almost all properties listed on this website fall into two broad categories: Nature Preserves (protected and owned by GTRLC) and Natural Areas (protected by GTRLC but owned by various units of government).
Unless otherwise noted, rules here apply to GTRLC-owned nature preserves. Though rules on natural areas are often similar, please be sure to check with the unit of government listed if you have specific rules questions. Visit our preserves and trails page to find out more info on each property, including who owns it.
While open to the public, GTRLC-owned preserves are privately owned. If you plan to hunt on one of our nature preserves, please obtain a hunting license that is approved for Private Land use when applicable, this specification only applies for certain hunting licenses and seasons. See the Michigan DNR’s hunting guides here for specifications on what licenses and seasons require a private land distinction.
Please contact us directly at (231) 929-7911 if you have any questions, notice a maintenance need or witness an inappropriate activity taking place on a preserve.
Permitted Activities on GTRLC Preserves:
GTRLC preserves are open from dawn until dusk. Aside from hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching and many other passive activities, the following are allowed on most GTRLC preserves. Visit each individual preserve page for allowable activities and more information.
- Fishing is allowed on Conservancy-owned lakes in accordance with state regulations. Please take care to clean up your litter. When ice fishing, shanties are allowed but must be removed daily (seasonal/permanent shanties are prohibited). Snowmobiles and ATVs are also prohibited.
- Dog walking is allowed on most preserves. Your dog must always be on a leash. Here’s why.
- Hunting is allowed on most preserves (see below), but regulations vary. Please read below and be sure to check regulations on the page of the preserve you’d like to hunt before you go. Trails are not closed during hunting season.
- Non-motorized boating is allowed on most Conservancy-owned lakes and streams with the exception of the Upper Manistee Headwaters Preserve.
If you’d like to use a preserve for an activity not listed here such as an educational or other small gathering please REQUEST USE HERE.
Prohibited Activities on GTRLC Preserves:
- Electric bikes
- Seasonal/Permanent ice fishing shanties
- Commercial harvesting of ANY species
- Drone usage
- Motorized boating
- Metal detecting (including the use of magnets in waterways)
- Trapping (exceptions include Green Point Dunes and Arcadia Dunes)
- Geocaching (without prior permission from GTRLC)
- Mountain biking (with the exception of portions of Arcadia Dunes and portions of Upper Manistee Headwaters)
- Foraging: Removal of natural features, plants or animals, outside of allowable hunting seasons, is prohibited. This includes firewood, ramps (wild onions or leeks), fiddleheads of ferns, and all native plants that are dug, cut, or damaged upon harvest. Common species of fruits, like apples or raspberries, nuts, and mushrooms that are growing in abundance, may be collected in small quantities, by hand, for personal use only. Commercial harvest of plants, animals or mushrooms is not allowed.
- Placement of items or structures of any kind: For the enjoyment of all users and preservation of natural spaces, we ask that visitors take only memories and leave only footprints. Placement of memorial items, painted rocks, fairy houses, geocaches or construction of benches, bridges, teepees, or other man-made items using natural materials is not allowed.
- Private events (including weddings)
We also welcome educational use of our preserves, but we and ask our guests to be mindful they are visiting the homes of the plants and animals whose lives depend on the land’s protection and health. If you would like to lead a group hike on one of our preserves, please contact us to make sure that the date is open and there are no conflicting uses on the site.
Hunting Considerations, Rules and Regulations:
NOTE: PLEASE VISIT THE PAGE OF THE PRESERVE OR NATURAL AREA YOU WISH TO HUNT FOR RULES SPECIFIC TO THAT PRESERVE. They can be found via the Preserves and Trails page. Again, please remember that not all properties listed on this website are GTRLC-owned properties. You should check with the owner of each natural area for up-to-date hunting regulations for those properties before you hunt. The owner is listed on each property page.
For various reasons, hunting is not allowed at the South & Fox Islands Preserve, Golden Days Loon Preserve, North Skegemog Preserve, Palastra-Holm Preserve, Elisabeth Parr Preserve/Nana’s Woods, Reffitt Nature Preserve, Maplehurst Natural Area, Pelizzari Natural Area, Milton Township Beach, Acme Bayside Park, Torch Lake Nature Preserve or the Wilcox-Palmer-Shah Preserve.
Please respect all forms of wildlife, your fellow sportsmen, and others that visit and enjoy the Conservancy’s preserves. These preserves are multi-use areas open to the public on a year-round basis for such activities as hiking, nature study, bird watching, and cross-country skiing. Please keep this in mind at all times when hunting the Conservancy’s preserves.
The GTRLC has rules specific to each preserve for hunting and trapping. Beyond those rules set forth by the GTRLC, the rules, regulations and seasons established by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources broadly apply. All persons hunting, fishing or trapping on GTRLC properties are liable to prosecution for noncompliance to the rules and regulations stated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. MDNR Conservation Officers are requested by the GTRLC to patrol its Preserves. Michigan Conservation Officers are fully commissioned Peace Officers and are empowered to arrest for all violations of Michigan’s laws. The CO’s primary duties are enforcement of natural resource and environmental protection laws. MDNR rules and regulations can be found at: www.michigan.gov/dnr.
Rules Applicable to GTRLC Preserves where Hunting is Allowed:
- Hunters are responsible to know all rules that are specific to the preserve they are hunting upon. Some preserves have restricted hunting.
- When waterfowl hunting on GTRLC-owned preserves, GTRLC prohibits targeting of coots, common moorhens/gallinules and rail species.
- The Conservancy reserves the right to deny or revoke hunting permission at its sole discretion.
- Unless otherwise noted below (Preserve Specific “Permitted Seasons”), rules regulating hunting on Conservancy Preserves open to hunting are the same as those set forth by the MDNR, including special hunting seasons available to youth and hunters with disabilities.
- Permanent deer blinds, tree stands, or duck blinds are prohibited on all Conservancy Preserves. Screw-in steps and other devices that penetrate the bark of a tree are prohibited. Portable stands must be labeled with the owner’s name and address such that it is easily visible from below at ground level. Stands can not be installed prior to September 1 and must be remove by the day following the close of the last deer season in the area. The Conservancy has no responsibility for tree stands, blinds or other items placed on Conservancy property.
- The cutting of shooting lanes, or cutting or destruction of brush, trees or other plants for any purpose is prohibited.
- The release of live animals on Conservancy preserves is prohibited.
- Hunting within 450 feet of any occupied building, or within 100 feet of any maintained parking area or recreational structure is prohibited.
- Trails: Due to the meandering design of the trails on the preserve, please familiarize yourself with the location of all trails and other
structures before hunting. Discharge of any firearm from or across trails is prohibited.
- Motorized vehicles, camping, and open or contained fires are prohibited on Conservancy Preserves.
- Parking is only allowed on designated parking areas and within the right of way of a maintained road such that no vegetation is harmed.
- There is no charge or fee for hunting on a Conservancy Preserve that is open to hunting.
Be sure to visit our general FAQ page for answers to other common questions.