|Location||Trip Time||Travel Type|
The Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, which works around the globe to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Here in Michigan, this includes the coastline of Eastern Lake Michigan. This coastline is a globally unique system of freshwater dunes and important wildlife habitat that spans over 500 miles, from Indiana to the Mackinac Bridge.
The Ross Preserve is part of this coastal system. It was established in 1988 thanks to a generous gift from Martha Parfet. This place was one of many that was special to her, and I hope that by the end of your visit it will be clear why. Join us on this tour to learn some of the unique history that has shaped this preserve, as well as what The Nature Conservancy is doing to protect it and places like it.
For more content, click the "Explore this Tour Remotely" button below.
Click here to see a transcript of this story.
Click here to hide the transcript of this story.
Each part of the Ross Preserve has a role to play in maintaining the area’s natural systems. Did you know that connection continues underground as well? The wetlands here share a hydrologic link with creeks in the area, including Brandywine Creek to the northeast, and even Rogers Creek to Lake Michigan in the west. This means that water enters and exits the preserve as surrounding water levels change. Too wet or too dry, and many of the native coastal marsh species and other wetland plants wouldn’t be able to grow, leaving the door open to invasive species like the tall, showy non-native Phragmites and low-lying reed canary grass. Watching out for these invasive species, and responding quickly to remove them, is one way The Nature Conservancy helps keep the Ross Preserve healthy and thriving. In fact, we work with partners including members of the Michigan Dune Alliance and “Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas”, or CISMAs for short, to manage invasive plants and restore habitats all along Eastern Lake Michigan. Go to www.nature.org/dunes to learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s coastal restoration work, which includes two other preserves on Lake Michigan’s coast—Zetterberg Preserve at Point Betsie and Portage Point Woods Preserve. You have now reached the end of this tour. At the next trail junction, you can either continue straight on the green trail to head back to the parking lot and entrance (about 1 mile) or, if you’re interested in taking a closer look at some wetlands, you can follow the red trail to the left and take an additional 1-mile trail to the east and north, returning to the remnants of Mud Lake Lodge. From there, it’s about 1-and-a-half miles back to the preserve entrance. If you’ve enjoyed this audio tour, other tours of select preserves are available at www.nature.org/miexplore. Thank you for visiting the Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve with The Nature Conservancy! We hope you will join us again soon.