Photos by Thomas Sprunger
Hudson, Mi., February 10, 2020 – ACRES Land Trust recently acquired 78 acres of rolling Hillsdale County land for permanent protection. Kauffman Nature Sanctuary is ACRES’ first Michigan property, bringing its total permanently protected land to 7,230 acres in the tristate area. ACRES will open trails on the preserve this fall.
“We’re excited to respond to people’s desire to protect local land,” says Jason Kissel, executive director of the nonprofit founded in 1960. “After 60 years of success in Indiana and Ohio, with Kauffman Nature Sanctuary, ACRES is able to demonstrate our work in Michigan, ensuring a local living legacy for generations. We’re eager to engage Michigan folks who want to help.”
Once ACRES Land Trust protects a property, the nonprofit will never sell or transfer the deed. In addition to nature preserves, ACRES Land Trust also protects working lands such as farms or timber stands. Land donors typically give land to the nonprofit by donation or bargain sale, though occasionally ACRES will purchase property at market value to protect unique places, as funding is available.
Janet Kauffman purchased this land with adjoining farmhouse in 1977, raising two boys here, farming the former front hayfields for more than a decade.
“It’s a place that’s been transformed through those years from rectangular farm fields and a straight-line lane to the present meandering footpaths, wetlands and grasslands,” says Kauffman.
In 1998, through the USDA’s Wetland Reserve Program, Kauffman had several farm drainage tiles broken on the land, restoring five pre-settlement wetlands. Sedges, willows and cattails moved in, restoring habitat where Green Heron and Sandhill Cranes have nested.
At the back of the property, a cold water stream, one of Michigan’s headwater streams of Lake Erie, winds through a forest with several large pawpaw patches and a rich floodplain. Thirteen species of freshwater mussels have been documented in the stream, including the slippershell mussel, Threatened in Michigan.
When transferring her property, Kauffman marveled at the reassurance of handing the complete property abstract to its final owner.
“After changing hands so many times since the early 1800s, it’s wonderful to know that ACRES holds it now, in perpetuity. There’s peace and real joy in that. The amazing life of this place will go on as itself, season after season after season.”
The former Kauffman farmhouse, barn and two acres are not protected and will be sold with proceeds to benefit ACRES Land Trust. In addition to protecting land, the nonprofit also receives land from donors as investments to be sold to support the nonprofit’s mission.
ACRES will open Kauffman Nature Sanctuary trails in the fall with a grand opening event. On some of its protected lands, the nonprofit offers trails open daily, dawn to dusk to demonstrate the value of relatively undisturbed natural places.
With donor help, ACRES Land Trust owns and protects 7,230 acres of natural and working lands in the tristate area, inspiring people to value, appreciate and support these places, for the benefit of all – today and forever.
ACRES celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2020 with a big goal to increase membership to help protect more land. ACRES membership starts at $25 annually and protects local land, forever. Learn more at acreslandtrust.org or on follow ACRES at facebook.com/acres.lt