Going Wild for Nature0
Spring is only a couple days away and nature throughout Kalamazoo will soon be in bloom. Speaking of nature, a local group is on a mission to preserve one of our community’s most beloved natural resources.
Managed and owned by Western Michigan University, The Kleinstuck Preserve is a 48-acre nature preserve home to a variety of plants and wildlife. In 2007, a group of individuals who live near the preserve formed a 501c3 nonprofit called The Stewards of Kleinstuck to care for the area.
“There was a group of neighbors that were interested in what could be done for the community,” Erin Fuller, president of the organization, said of the group’s origins. “From the beginning, we have worked to take care of the preserve ecologically and inform the community that it can be used as a resource to connect with nature.
“It is great for jogging, dog walking, birdwatching, and skiing,” she added.
With an ecosystem that consists of upland forest, swamp forest, shrub-carr and marshland, the preserve also houses a variety of rare wildlife. Great-horned owls, barred owls, red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and pileated woodpeckers all call the area home.
In 2019, 12-acres of undeveloped woodlands adjacent to the preserve were put up for sale. Wanting to protect and preserve the area’s natural footprint, the Stewards of Kleinstuck created Keep Kalamazoo Wild to pool resources in hopes of purchasing the additional land.
“We held a community meeting that was attended by 150 members,” Fuller shared. “Once we saw that there was interest, we began raising money and making offers to the property owner.”
This initiative was financially backed by individual supporters, grants, and other resources for funding. When asked about this patronage, Fuller praised the community’s giving spirit.
“What has astonished me is the engagement and support,” she said. “It has been so heart-warming to see and symbolizes the generosity of our community and the importance of nature.”
Keep Kalamazoo Wild purchased the additional 12 acres in September 2020. Fuller and her fellow members now shift focus to paying off the remainder of their loan, about $20,000, through fundraising.
“Our goal is to keep the land open to the public and safeguard its natural state,” she revealed. “Eventually, we want to develop a land management plan for the new area.”
Until then, Fuller and the Stewards of Kleinstuck look forward to the day they can safely gather as a group and celebrate this win. If you are interested in showing your support for the project’s next steps, visit with the nonprofit’s website to learn how you can help!