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Habitat Management and Conservation at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute l A Southwest Michigan Nature Center

Habitat Management

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is situated on 742 acres in southern Barry County and encompasses a wide variety of natural communities. Upland areas include constructed prairie, young second growth forests, and mature oak/hickory and beech/maple forests, while wetlands include mixed hardwood and conifer swamp, wet meadows, and prairie fens. The Institute is also home to 19 species that are listed on state or federal “endangered,” “threatened,” or “special concern” lists. Significant efforts are made to conserve the native wildlife found on Institute property.

The primary goal of our stewardship efforts is to preserve the ecological integrity of the property. This involves removing disturbances and non-native species our natural communities are not adapted to, while reintroducing native species and the natural ecosystem processes to maintain them. Invasive plant species are a common problem; they often need to be managed through mechanical or chemical control. Another management strategy is to re-introduce the historical fire regime. Grassland fires were at one time common throughout the landscape but have been unnaturally suppressed since European settlement. By conducting prescribed fires, we are able to restore this ecosystem process to our natural areas.

A comprehensive management plan has been developed to provide a vision for the ecosystems at the Institute. This plan also sets specific goals for our natural areas in order to best accommodate the native species that reside here.