New amenities planned for 65-acre Rabbit River preserve in Hamilton

What’s happening: The ODC Network, a West Michigan outdoor education and conservation nonprofit, has announced plans for new amenities to be installed at its Rabbit River Preserve in the Allegan County community of Hamilton. The nonprofit first purchased the preserve in 2017, which features several trails and boardwalks that wind through 65 acres of wilderness along the Rabbit River.

What’s planned: Construction will take place this summer and fall as crews build the Discovery Pavilion, an indoor-outdoor learning space that allows for educational and additional programming year-round. Also planned is a covered picnic area, restroom facilities, kitchenette, accessible walkways and parking area, and bus loop.

Why it’s happening: More than 2,500 guests visit the Rabbit River Preserve each year, this despite the 65-acre nature site currently lacking both amenities and shelter. The ODC Network contends that the popularity of the site continues to grow, and the planned improvements will help meet more visitors’ needs while attracting new guests to the preserve, too. 

How they’re doing it: The Discovery Pavilion project has been accepted into the state’s placemaking initiative Public Spaces Community Places, a joint effort from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity. As part of the initiative, ODC Network has launched a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform. Should they successfully reach their goal by Saturday, May 25, the MEDC will contribute a $50,000 matching grant to the project.

Learn more about the Discovery Pavilion plans on Patronicity.

Why it’s important: “Adding a Discovery Pavilion to the Rabbit River Preserve aligns with ODC's vision to build a better community by connecting people, land, and nature,” says Travis Williams, CEO of the ODC Network. “This tranquil preserve along the river is already visited by thousands of people each year, and the new pavilion will add necessary amenities to the site and create a gathering space that will be a long-term asset for the community. We're grateful for MEDC's partnership to secure the final funds needed.”

Rabbit River Preserve is located at 4401 135th Ave. in Hamilton.

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