CEDAR — An 80-acre tract folded into the Cedar River Preserve is a unique, undisturbed property with rare flora and fauna that’s now protected forever.
The Leelanau Conservancy recently closed on the parcel adjacent to the existing preserve, bringing the total natural area to 546 acres. The spot boasts wildlife habitat that includes uncommon species of wild orchids and even carnivorous plants.
The site includes 20 acres of sensitive wetlands and 60 acres of mesic northern hardwoods, home to native wildflowers such as trillium and squirrel corn. An extended ridgeline overlooks a glacier-formed kettle hole that forms a pond on the hillside thanks to high groundwater levels.
“We’re envisioning a nice trail through the forest to this overlook,” said Becky Hill, the conservancy’s natural areas and preserves director.
The ridge offers sweeping views of South Lake Leelanau and the Solon Swamp. It’s among the last large, undeveloped parcels that overlook the lake.
“It also represents the only viable way to reach the Cedar River Preserve on foot,” said Matt Heiman, the conservancy’s land programs director. “At the base of the ridge the property includes 300 feet of shoreline on an unnamed inland lake connected to the Cedar River.”
Some unique wetland plants are found in the preserve addition, including rare orchids like grass pink and rose pogonia, flowering sedges and carnivorous plants such as pitcher plant and sundew.
In addition, a land swap with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources finalized. The conservancy picked up parcels in the Solon Swamp.
“We now own over a mile of frontage along the mouth of the river and both of the inland lakes, and that’s huge,” said Yarrow Brown, the conservancy’s conservation easement program manager.
Hill said the organization wants to build trails and any boardwalks through the sensitive habitats in ways that best preserve the spaces.
“We want to be very careful about not introducing invasive species,” Hill said.
She said the new preserve land scored the highest floristic quality index — a basic botanical report card — when compared to all other conservancy properties.
The conservancy is accepting donations for trail construction at the preserve. More information is available at www.leelanauconservancy.org online.