Nature preserves established in watershed


Sylvan Solace Natural Area is located on West Pickard Road.

The Chippewa Watershed Conservancy has established 19 nature preserves in Isabella and surrounding counties ensuring the protection of local wildlife for community enjoyment. 

The CWC is a non-profit conservation group that preserves natural areas in the community. Preserves are established to protect endangered species and the Chippewa watershed and keep land in private hands.

Political science professor Tom Stewart said the organization is always looking for student volunteers.

"You'd be amazed how much a small group of dedicated people with similar interests can achieve with their goals in mind," he said.

Traverse City junior Jon Breithaupt, who has an internship with the organization, said he originally became interested in the CWC because of its mission.

"Our mission first and foremost is to protect the natural space and wildlife habitat," he said. "The secondary objective is to allow for human visitors to enjoy the property."

Stan Lilley, executive director of the CWC, said for being a small organization, the CWC has made a significant impact on the community.

"The public preserves encourage people to get out to a more quiet natural environment where they can do a number of things, like bird watch or butterfly watch," he said.

Last year, the CWC partnered with the Isabella County Planning Commission to create an interactive map of the Chippewa River and all the parks in Mount Pleasant and surrounding areas.

"The map includes safe entry points for canoes and kayaks," Lilley said. "It's a shared resource that helps teach proper river etiquette and respect."

Breithaupt said becoming involved with the CWC has been a rewarding experience.

"If our generation doesn't get active in conservation, then we might not have these beautiful places," he said. "You'll leave a lasting impact for future generations by improving the environment."

Stewart, who served on the CWC's executive board for twenty years, said conservation is vital work.

"It's a quality of life issue, a water purity issue, and a species biodiversity issue."