his coming spring there will be dawn to dusk public access to the 27-acre Pilgrim Haven Natural Area in South Haven.
Improvements there will include an electric gate at the preserve’s entrance, new fencing, pit toilets, additional parking lot improvements, and other facilities that will support the Great Lakes Water Trail.
Pilgrim Haven Natural Area features woodlands, hiking trails and a beach on Lake Michigan. Steps being taken to make public access easier are being accomplished, in part, as a result of a $70,000 grant made by Entergy Corporation–Palisades to the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC).
SWMLC will use the grant funds to match funding from a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grant awarded earlier this year to the South Haven Area Recreation Authority (SHARA).
"The generous grant from Entergy-Palisades will assist Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and South Haven Area Recreation Authority in moving forward with a new phase of improvements to the Pilgrim Haven Natural Area," says Peter Ter Louw, SWMLC President and Executive Director. "These improvements will allow us to safely open this extremely unique nature preserve on Lake Michigan for South Haven area residents and visitors."
With the contribution from Entergy-Palisades, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and South Haven Area Recreation Authority will be able to continue the work to create public access and offer community uses of the property. The land includes a stretch of Dyckman Creek and almost 800 feet of beach along Lake Michigan.
Located just north of Van Buren State Park, Pilgrim Haven Natural Area was donated to SWMLC in December 2011 through a bequest from the estate of Suzanne Upjohn Delano Parish.
She wanted to see the former campground remain as open space and opened to the public. In the fall of 2016, SWMLC entered into an agreement with the South Haven Area Recreation Authority for the management of the preserve. SHARA is a partnership of the City of South Haven, South Haven Charter Township, and South Haven Public Schools.
Under the agreement, SHARA is responsible for the general maintenance and management of the nature preserve, as well as implementation of current public access improvements. SWMLC will continue to own the property and care for the natural areas and wildlife habitats on site through the work of employees and volunteers.
"Our support is about stewardship and being a good neighbor not only today, but tomorrow and years to come," says Palisades Site Vice President Charlie Arnone. "Future generations will be able to enjoy Pilgrim Haven thanks to the work of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. The organization provides an incredible service to this region and we are so proud to partner with SWMLC on this important project."
South Haven Township Supervisor and Chair of SHARA Ross Stein says, "Visitors can enjoy time on the beach, swimming in Lake Michigan, walking along a creek, or hiking through the woods," "For over 100 years, the property that is now the Pilgrim Haven Natural Area has been a beloved place for people to come to enjoy the Lake Michigan shoreline, and we’re thrilled that we can be a part of continuing that legacy."
SHARA is pleased to partner with SWMLC in managing Pilgrim Haven - it is a remarkable open space and a wonderful gift to the community," says Stein. "And the generous grant from Entergy is helping to ensure Pilgrim Haven is open to all."
Souce: Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy