In 2015, the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council partnered with Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) and graduate students at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment under guidance of Dr. J. David Allan to develop a land conservation plan for the Kalamazoo River Watershed. The plan identified the most important parcels to protect for the best possible water quality within the entire 2,020 square mile watershed. The Battle Creek River sub-Watershed is 307 square miles; mostly agricultural land but with large tracts of undeveloped forests and wetlands in the headwaters area. These wild headwaters include Ackley Creek, Big Marsh Lake, Wanadoga Creek, Waubascon Creek, and
Clear Lake — which all flow into the Battle Creek River.
In 2016, the partners were awarded a two-year $530,000 matching grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to permanently conserve land in the Battle Creek River sub-Watershed. This award enabled SWMLC to protect property with high-conservation values, and to conduct outreach to owners of high-priority properties within the watershed. The Kalamazoo River Watershed Council has been assisting with landowner outreach and education of local units of government.
The parcel of land that was placed under conservation easement the 476-acre Big Marsh Farm located adjacent to the Michigan Audubon Society’s Baker Birder Sanctuary in Convis Township. With its forested and prairie uplands, 140 acres of wetlands, and 4,300 feet of frontage on Ackley Creek, it is one of the most important properties to permanently conserve it for the long term water quality of Ackley Creek and the Battle Creek River. MDEQ watershed management grants help restore impaired waters — and protect high-quality waters — by reducing nonpoint sources of sediment, nutrients, and other contaminants. The grants are funded under the federal Clean Water Act – Section 319 and the Clean Michigan Initiative – Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grants Program.