By Scott Warsen
FAIRVIEW – Thanks to one of Michigan’ ardent conservation heroes, the Fairview property formerly known as Camp Michi-Lu-Ca will be restored to a more natural state that will offer many opportunities for public enjoyment. The former Christian camp closed its doors in late 2014 due to declining enrollment, and Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame Inductee John Woollam and the J.A. Woollam Foundation purchased the property with the intention of converting it from summer camp to nature preserve.
While the nature preserve is not yet open to the public, efforts to prepare it are underway. Restoration of the 360-acre property involves the removal of about 90% of its buildings, which are currently in a state of disrepair. The main lodge will remain on-site and be converted into a classroom, meeting space, and office space. Once the restoration of the property is complete, HeadWaters Land Conservancy (HWLC) will take ownership and manage it as a public nature preserve with scheduled access and activities.
The nature preserve, expected to be complete in late 2017, will serve as a living classroom where the public can gain an appreciation and understanding of the natural environment through activities such as bird watching hikes, stargazing, nature classes, and participation in citizen science programs.
‘It has four lakes, a stream, vernal pools, and multiple forest types,’ said Laura Justin, executive director of HWLC. ‘It’ just a magical place.’
The nature preserve in Fairview is the product of the generosity and vision of Kalamazoo-born John Woollam, one of the state’ leaders in both conservation and philanthropy. Active in the acquisition and protection of thousands of acres of land for the enjoyment of future generations, he recently received recognition for his work with an induction into the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame’ class of 2016.
‘I have never known a more generous and caring man,’ Justin said. ‘Land protection is his passion beyond passion.’
To learn more about the HeadWaters Land Conservancy, visit headwatersconservancy.org.