Portman Nature Preserve opens Oct. 21 with grand opening celebration

The Portman Nature Preserve will open to the public beginning Oct. 21.  The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy has planned a grand opening from 1 to 4 p.m. 

Land Conservancy officials say that "with a combination of state and federal grants, foundation grants, and donations from local individuals and corporations, SWMLC has successfully completed the $2.2 million fundraising campaign to protect, steward, and create public access for the Portman Nature Preserve in Mattawan."

In addition to acquiring the property, these funds will also:  create public access to the preserve, including a driveway and parking area, trailhead, signage and trails; enable immediate invasive species removal and habitat improvement projects; and ensure long-term stewardship of the property.

“The creation of this special protected natural area is the result of an epic collaboration of many partners all working hand-in-hand to ensure the project’s success,” says SWMLC President and Executive Director Pete Ter Louw. “We are honored by the participation of so many people in creating the Portman Nature Preserve, and humbled by the generosity the conservation and local community have shown.”

 The grand opening celebration will include: 
  • 1-1:45pm – Storybook Hike – SWMLC will offer a storybook hike, where children will have the opportunity to read the book “Meet Us on the Trail,” written by Andrew F. Johnson and illustrated by Jennifer Johnson Haywood, who will also lead the hike, helping children explore the tracks, scat and other signs of North American animals on-site at the Portman Nature Preserve. (Please RSVP to cmdargitz@swmlc.org or by phone to 269-324-1600. Due to limited space, RSVP’s are required.)
  • 2-2:30pm – Acknowledgements and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony – SWMLC will formally thank and recognize all those who have been instrumental in bringing the Portman Nature Preserve to fruition. This recognition will culminate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
  • 3:00-4:00pm – Guided Nature Hike – SWMLC will offer a nature hike of the preserve guided by one of SWMLC’s eminent stewardship staff. This hike offers the opportunity to learn about some of the incredibly diverse species and habitats present on this 189-acre preserve.
  • All Day – Hike the more than 2 miles of trails at Portman Nature Preserve and enjoy the other family-friendly activities that will be offered throughout the day. 

The Little Adventurers’ Club will host a “Make a Nature Journal Craft,” and SWMLC will also offer a nature scavenger hunt, as well as “Hike Our Preserves” (HOP!) Portman medallions for all those participating in the HOP! Program.

SWMLC has already begun working with Mattawan and Paw Paw Schools to incorporate the Portman Nature Preserve as an outdoor classroom into the K-12 curriculum. Classes have begun visiting the preserve this fall, and SWMLC will be working with other school districts as well once the preserve is officially open. The Portman Nature Preserve also offers a natural laboratory for local researchers, and a natural space for the community to explore, learn, exercise, gather, and connect with nature and with each other.
Source: Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
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