Grand Mere Natural Area Tour: MI

Article Posted: June 09, 2003

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Grand Mere Natural Area Tour

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials today announced a June 21 walking tour of Grand Mere State Park on the shore of Lake Michigan in Berrien County.

This family-oriented tour, starting at 1 p.m. at North Lake Park, a township park on Grand Mere Rd., just north of Grand Mere State Park. It is an opportunity to explore high relief dunes formed by the recession of glacial lakes. The tour could last up to three-and-a-half hours and will remain mostly on established trails, although footing in the sand dunes may be unstable at times. It is the second of six tours planned in this yearís Natural Areas Tour Series.

Grand Mere has many exceptional natural features, including 5,000 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, high forested dunes together with lower, less stable exposed dune areas, and woodlands with abundant animal life. The area is also noted for marsh and boglands, three shallow inland lakes connected by slow-moving streams, and an overall sense of scenic beauty. Unique to the Great Lakes region is the combination of both southern and northern dune vegetation types. In addition, its location along a principal migration route up the east coast of Lake Michigan makes it an important stopover area for both forest songbirds and waterfowl.

In 1968, the United States Department of the Interior designated the area as a Registered Natural Landmark because of its exceptional value to illustrate the nationís natural heritage.

The natural areas movement in Michigan began in 1925, when State Parks Chief P. J. Hoffmaster recommended the acquisition and preservation of the Porcupine Mountains in the western Upper Peninsula. In 1972, Michigan passed into law the Wilderness and Natural Areas Act, which finally provided legally binding protection for natural areas. Today, more than 130,000 acres statewide are managed as natural areas under this program.

More information about natural areas in Michigan and this yearís Natural Areas Tour Series can be found on the DNR web site at The Natural Areas Program is supported in part by Nongame Fish and Wildlife Funds. Michigan residents can support these efforts by purchasing a wildlife habitat license plate for their vehicles.

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