Volunteers help create access for Pilgrim Haven Natural Area

A half-mile nature trail through the woods built by the community is bringing the grand opening of Pilgrim Haven Natural Area one step closer. The natural area was a gift to the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy from Suzanne Parish.

More than 40 volunteers turned out late July to create a 6-foot-wide trail through the woodland on the eastern edge of the property, linking it with existing mowed trails to the west.

A pedestrian-only access was built into the perimeter fence on 77th Street with labor and materials from Cottage Home.

The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy worked with  the South Haven Area Recreation Authority (SHARA) over the summer to explore a partnership for maintenance and management of Pilgrim Haven Natural Area.

A SHARA official says the partnership is an exciting prospect. "Being able to create a public natural area on Lake Michigan for the South Haven region is one of the reasons SHARA was established," says Ross Stein, South Haven Township supervisor and SHARA Chairman.

In addition to support from local businesses, former campers, and SWMLC volunteers, many local residents are doing their part to help support Pilgrim Haven improvements. Local resident John Lewandowski is personally supporting the cause by taking on a six-day bicycle climb through Utah’s Bryce Canyon to raise money to support Pilgrim Haven.

"There is no doubt that this place has special meaning to the people of the greater South Haven area and former Pilgrim Haven campers," says Peter Ter Louw, SWMLC executive director. "The creation of this natural area is moving forward thanks to an amazing outpouring of community support."

The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy serves nine counties in southwest Michigan, and has protected almost 13,000 acres since its inception as an all-volunteer organization in 1991. The Conservancy currently has eight staff and 150 active volunteers and is supported by over 1,200 household memberships.

Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy