Grant will help SWMLC create Porter Legacy Dunes preserve

    SOUTH HAVEN - This spring, the Carls Foundation and the J.A. Woollam Foun-dation awarded a $125,000 challenge grant to help Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) raise the remainder of the funds it needs to protect and create Porter Legacy Dunes nature preserve in South Haven. So far, SWMLC has raised approximately $105,000 of the $125,000 goal, but must raise the final $20,000 by August 31 in order to receive the full grant amount.
    Located right across the street from Southwest Mich-igan Land Conservancy’s Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, Porter Legacy Dunes is a 48-acre property on Lake Mich-igan that has been owned by the Porter Family since the 1880’s. Porter Legacy Dunes has been unspoiled for over 150 years, and as part of a chain of freshwater dunes that line Lake Michigan’s coast, it is one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet.
    The Carls/Woollam Chal-lenge Grant is intended to help SWMLC complete fund-raising for this $3.3 million project. Last year, SWMLC, in public-private partnership with the South Haven Area Recreation Authority (SHARA) received a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to assist in acquiring this spectacular property. Combined with a significant donation from the Porter Family and many generous donations from SWMLC members and several private foundations, as well as the South Haven Com-munity Foundation, SWMLC and SHARA are within $20,000 of the total fundraising goal to protect and create Porter Legacy Dunes.
    “Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy is tremendously grateful to The Carls Foundation and the J.A. Woollam Foundation for this generous challenge grant, and to everyone who has already donated to help us protect this important natural area and expand public access to natural areas on Lake Michigan,” stated SWMLC President and Executive Director Pete Ter Louw. “We look forward to being able to conserve this property forever, and to share it with the community.”
    In addition to the 120-foot dune that overlooks Lake Michigan, Porter Legacy Dunes offers a stunning beech-maple-hemlock-oak backdune forest with seemingly endless carpets of spring wildflowers, and a quarter-mile of winding Dyckman Creek. It provides critical habitat for many rare and unusual plant and animal species, including resident birds and aerial migrants such as cerulean and hooded warblers, scarlet tanagers, and monarch butterflies.
    Porter Legacy Dunes boasts over 1,100 feet of frontage on Lake Michigan, which, when combined with that of Pilgrim Haven totals almost 2,000 feet of protected natural Lake Michigan shoreline.
    “Porter Legacy Dunes provides the perfect natural complement to Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, where all the visitor amenities such as parking, bathroom facilities, and barrier-free trails and walkways have already been implemented,” stated Ter Louw. “This public access infrastructure will also serve the Porter Legacy Dunes property, minimizing impact to the sensitive coastal dune habitat, where the only additions we envision are low-impact trails and trailhead, a stream crossing, some benches, and possibly backdune stairs to protect the dune and dune face.”
    As required by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Porter Legacy Dunes will be owned by the South Haven Recreation Authority, but all of its natural areas will be managed and stewarded by Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy.         The almost-10-year-old South Haven Area Recreation Authority is a partnership of South Haven Charter Town-ship, The City of South Haven and South Haven Public Schools, and provides a regional approach to managing and advancing community recreation needs.
    Anyone interested in learning more about Porter Legacy Dunes or how to help protect this special natural area on Lake Michigan for future generations of people and wildlife, may visit SWMLC’s website and check out the Porter Legacy Dunes video at

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