Access: Open to the Public
Acreage: 29.5 acres
Recreational Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, spring wildflowers, fall colors
Directions: Located on the north and south side of Harbert Road, approximately 0.5 miles west of Red Arrow Highway in Harbert, MI.
Parking: There is no public parking available for these preserves.
The Harbert Preserves consist of three preserves located in close proximity along Harbert Road: Critter Haven Preserve, Harbert Dunes Preserve, and The Woods Preserve. Together, these properties protect nearly 30 acres of beech-maple forest and hardwood swamps within half a mile of the lakeshore. Tucked away in Harbert's quiet neighborhoods, the Preserves serve this community by providing scenic views, filtering lake-bound water, sequestering carbon, and protecting habitat for native wildlife. As part of the Lake Michigan coastal flyway for migratory songbirds, the Harbert Preserves provide habitat for birds to rest and feed during their seasonal journeys up and down the lakeshore.
The properties include a mix of upland and wetland forests. The drier areas are a mixed hardwood forest dominated by beech, maple, and oak. The wetter areas are dominated by maple, tulip popular, yellow birch, and oak. Water levels in the wetlands fluctuate seasonally and eventually drain to Lake Michigan through an unnamed tributary.
A hiking loop is located in Harbert Dunes Preserve, passing through forested uplands and near seasonal wetlands. Critter Haven Preserve and The Woods Preserve do not have trails due to their seasonally wet conditions and sensitive habitats.
The Harbert Preserves are a testament to local generosity and grassroots community organizing.
The largest preserve, Harbert Dunes Preserve, is made up of three parcels totaling 18.8 acres.The first parcel was originally acquired and protected by Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy in 1996, and then transferred to Chikaming Open Lands in 2018. Two additional parcels were then purchased by Chikaming Open Lands in 2021 with a successful community fundraising campaign involving over 460 donors. These two parcels represented a missing link in connecting the existing preserves in perpetuity.
The Woods Preserve is made up of two parcels. The original 6.5-acre parcel was donated to Chikaming Open Lands in 2011 by the Foster, Douglass, and Gazzolo families. In 2014, the Easy Lane and Timber Lane neighborhood groups donated the funds necessary to purchase an additional 3+ acres to expand this property, with additional funding from The Pokagon Fund.
The 1.35-acre Critter Haven Preserve includes one parcel donated in 2012 by Carl and Shirley Anderson, while another parcel was purchased in 2013 with assistance from the neighborhood and The Pokagon Fund.
The Woods Preserve and Critter Haven Preserve were acquired in part with funding from The Pokagon Fund.