Conservancy partnership adds new plot to Superior Greenway

Superior Greenway, an over 2,800-acre wildlife and public recreation corridor in Washtenaw County, has recently expanded by 80 acres through a collaboration with Ann Arbor, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, and Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy (SMLC).


SMLC is a nonprofit dedicated to conserving land in southeast Michigan to protect wildlife and provide green space for people to visit. In 1991, the organization received a donation of 30 acres in Superior Charter Township, which sparked the inception of the Superior Greenway.


SMLC founder Jack Smiley says the conservancy made a goal to gather enough parcels of land to separate Detroit from Ann Arbor, preserve the natural state of the land, and prevent urban sprawl. Smiley says the consequences of urban development in this area would be more pollution and loss of wildlife, among others.


"This is the last greenspace we have (between Ann Arbor and Detroit), or else it's going to be one big urban sprawl area," Smiley says.


Since that 30-acre donation in 1993, SMLC has purchased land to expand the greenway and partnered with federal, state and local governments to conserve surrounding areas.


Through funding from the Ann Arbor Greenbelt Program, SMLC purchased the new 80-acre plot from the Marissa A. Stepien Living Trust, and the county acquired a conservation easement on the property.


The new parcel is next to the Weatherbee Woods Preserve, which connects to Schroeter Park in Superior Township. SMLC plans to name the new plot the Secrest Nature Preserve to honor a local family's support of land protection efforts in the area for years.


Smiley says SMLC plans to create trails and viewing spots for the public to enjoy the greenway. He says Superior Greenway is important to the community and is an attraction for visitors as well.


"It's a really great location for viewing wildlife," Smiley says. "It's an important birding hotspot. We have people coming from across the state to see some of the wild birds in their habitat."


Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at


Photo courtesy of Jack Smiley.

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