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Prairie Restoration as seen from Education Building at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute l A West Michigan Nature Center

Field Sites at the Biological Field Station

 

The Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is situated in Southwest Michigan on a recessional moraine, which provides the physical setting for a great diversity of ecosystems. The total area available for education and research is 661 acres on four parcels, most of which is in the central parcel of 555 acres. Only one parcel, the “Little Grand Canyon,” is not contiguous with the main parcel.

Provided below is a brief list and description of the Institute’s property, with estimates of the total acreage of each of the major habitat types. Approximately 41% of the land is forested, 40% is wetland (of which over one-half is fen), about 17% is upland field, sand prairie, and constructed prairie, and about 2% is open water in the form of a “pot hole” lake, stream, vernal ponds, and retention ponds. Map

Wetlands around Cedar Creek and Brewster Lake at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute l A West Michigan Biological Field Station for Environmental Science

Parcels and Ecosystem Facts:

   Central Parcel (555 acres)
          Wetland – 255 total acres
                 Prairie Fen – 152 acres
                 Mixed Deciduous Swamp – 55 acres
                 Southern Wet Meadow (Sedge Meadow) – 10 acres
                 Relict Conifer Swamp (Cedar and Tamarack) – 35 acres
                 Vernal Ponds – 2 acres
                 Retention Ponds – 1 acre
         Forest – 220 total acres
                 Mesic Southern Forest (Beech-Maple Forest) – 70 acres
                 Dry Southern Forest (Oak Forest) – 65 acres
                 Dry-Mesic Southern Forest (Mixed Deciduous Forest) – 85 acres

         Field – 70 total acres
                 Mesic Prairie (Constructed) – 50 acres
                 Old field – 20 acresBeech-Maple Forests at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute l A West Michigan Biological Field Station for Environmental Science
         Open Water – 13 acres
                 Brewster Lake – 13 acres
                 Cedar Creek – 1.2 miles

This parcel was purchased from Dr. H. Lewis and Jean Batts, who bought the property in 1952 to protect it from development. Dr. Batts was a visionary conservationist, a prominent, internationally-known environmentalist, and co-founder of the Kalamazoo Nature Center and the Environmental Defense Fund. Dr. Batts was also a faculty member at Kalamazoo College.

Prior to their ownership, the majority of the land suitable for agriculture was farmed. After the Batts purchased the property all but approximately 70 acres was managed as natural land. His commitment preserved and protected the nearly pristine condition of the property.


Hyla House Parcel (13 acres) Constructed Native Prairies at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute l A West Michigan Biological Field Station for Environmental Science
Purchased in 2000 from the Rolfe Family. Primary use as property buffer and housing.
                 Hay Field – 10 acres
                 Farmstead – 2 acres
                 Southern Wet Meadow (Sedge Meadow) – 1 acre

Little Grand Canyon Parcel (50 acres)
Not contiguous with main parcel. Purchased at auction from the estate of Lyle Gorham, a farmer and longtime resident of Baltimore Township.
                 Glacial gorge over 150 feet deep with Mesic Southern Forest – 20 acres
                 Southern Shrub Carr – 10 acres
                 Hay Field – 20 acres

Burpee Parcel (43 acres)
Cedar Creek runs through center of property. Purchased from Burpee family in 2003.
                 Mesic Sand Prairie – 5 acres
                 Open Field – 5 acres
                 Dry-Mesic Southern Forest (Mixed Deciduous Forest) – 33 acres

Overall, Institute property can be broken down into the following plant community types:

Habitat

Plant Community Type

% of total acreage

 

Forest

Total: 41.3%

   
 

Mesic Southern Forest (Beech-Maple Forest)

13.6

 

 

Dry Southern Forest (Oak Forest)

9.8

 

Dry-Mesic Southern Forest (Mixed Deciduous Forest)

17.9

Wetland

Total: 39.5%

   
 

Prairie Fen

22.7

 
 

Relict Conifer Swamp (Cedar and Tamarack)

5.3

 

Mixed Deciduous Swamp

8.3

 

Southern Wet Meadow (Sedge Meadow)

1.7

 

Southern Shrub-Carr

1.5

Open Field

Total: 16.9%

   
 

Mesic Prairie (Constructed)

7.6

 
 

Mesic Sand Prairie

0.8

 

Old Field

8.6

Open Water

Total: 2.3%

   
 

Brewster Lake

1.5

 
 

Cedar Creek

0.3

 

Kettle Hole Ponds

0.3

 

Retention Ponds

0.2

For a better understanding of some of the ecosystems, please review the map of the property.

 

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