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Protect Sugarwood Forest

Thanks to the generous support of our friends and neighbors, we have preserved one of the last remaining old-growth forests in Southwest Michigan! 

We officially acquired the 40-acre woodland in Chikaming Township just adjacent to Warren Woods State Park on February 8, 2021. 

More than 100 individuals and organizations participated in a campaign to raise the funds needed to complete the purchase of the property and protect this valuable woodland in perpetuity during the summer and fall of 2020. We were awarded a $80,000 challenge grant from The Carls Foundation to aid in the fundraising effort. Other lead grants to fund the project came from Will and Bess Fitzgerald, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, and the John C. Bock Foundation.

Located on Elm Valley Road Road bordering Warren Woods State Park, Sugarwood Forest Preserve will be open to the public for outdoor recreation. We plan to build a trail system through the preserve this summer, providing a new place where community members can enjoy this rare virgin forest. We are also exploring the possibility of connecting the trail to the existing trail system in the State Park.

The parcel is unique in the area for its high-quality, virgin beech-maple forest. “This was a project we couldn’t pass up,” said Ryan Postema, COL Executive Director. “Untouched mature forest like this is really rare in this area, so we felt very strongly about preserving it in its natural state.”

Postema also pointed out that the property’s acquisition creates an open space corridor with Warren Woods State Park next door, along with nearby protected properties like Chikaming Township Park & Preserve, and our Chris Thompson Memorial Preserve, Merritt Family Preserve, and Younger Family Preserve. “These natural corridors, particularly ones like this that run adjacent to a river system, provide critical habitat for native plants and animals, promoting biodiversity and a healthy, balanced ecosystem,” said Postema.

 In the interest of ensuring the woodland was preserved, the landowners, George and Andrea Platz, offered to sell the property to COL at a significant reduction from its market value. “This piece of land, with its ravines and huge old growth trees, is in much the same condition as it has been for thousands of years,” said Mr. Platz. “My wife and I feel that it is important to preserve the land in perpetuity not only because it is awe-inspiring to see, but also because doing so allows [us] to experience what this area of Michigan was like… long before it was turned into farms and towns.”

Thank you to all who helped ensure this important woodland is preserved for future generations!