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2 Preserve History & Restoration - TravelStorys

Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve

Location Trip Time Travel Type
Michigan 45 minutes

2 Preserve History & Restoration

You may notice brightly colored paint markings on some of the trees on this part of the trail, or other signs of tree removal. And you may be wondering, isn’t this a nature preserve? Why are they taking trees out? No need to worry - this is restoration in action! For thousands of years, much of this area was covered with trees. Tall American beech, sugar maple with its colorful autumn leaves, and evergreen eastern hemlock blanketed the landscape. Back then, many of the wetlands you see today were forested swamps. Native tribes who used this area as far back as 2500 years ago would have walked amidst tall trees, hunting passenger pigeons and other game. The meat they harvested would have been cooked in leather pouches using water and hot stones. Some of these “firestones” have been found near the preserve. French trappers were the first Europeans to explore this area in the 1600s. They encountered extensive forestlands, too. It wasn’t until the 1800s that the impacts of human activity began to visibly change the landscape. Timber became an important economy in this region, and many of the old woodlands were cleared by the end of the 1800s. Red pine was planted here in their place for the purpose of harvesting and selling timber. The non-native red pine trees that remain are a relic of this closed chapter in the preserve’s history. Today, the Ross Preserve sits within one of the last remaining stretches of northern hardwood forest in southwest Michigan. The Nature Conservancy is working to restore the forest by removing some of these red pine trees, which acidify the soil and prevent other plants from growing. We are planting seedlings of native tree species to grow in their place. This will help maintain the area’s forest legacy.

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