Spirit Springs Sanctuary opens June 9Published 11:15pm Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) celebrates the grand opening of its 124-acre Spirit Springs Sanctuary near Marcellus from 10 a.m. to noon June 9.
The property is SWMLC’s first publicly accessible natural area preserve in Cass County and was acquired in 2010 from former owners Vernon and Alice Miller.
“We’re celebrating the grand opening of a place that is a feast for the senses,” stated Peter Ter Louw, SWMLC executive director. “As you walk through the preserve, you get a taste for the interesting variation of tree and plant communities throughout the site. Depending on the time of year and the time of day you visit, you will have an entirely unique experience of colors, sights and sounds.”
SWMLC added off-street parking, signage and additional amenities that make the preserve an attractive place for a walk.
According to Ter Louw, the grand opening of this preserve is a culmination of the efforts of many community members in the broader Three Rivers and Marcellus region. “We’re greatly appreciative of the broad community support from business and individual supporters to create a wonderful community resource,” added Ter Louw. A guided tour will cap the festivities planned for the morning.
Located in the northeast region of Cass County, Spirit Springs provides a natural area retreat that compliments a number of nearby spiritual institutions, such as Gilchrist Retreat Center, the Hermitage and St. Gregory’s Abbey. “The preserve was named Spirit Springs in part because of the surface stream and groundwater seeps on the site, but also because it is a place that lends itself well to peaceful reflection and the renewal of mind, body and spirit,” said Ter Louw.
Funding to conserve Spirit Springs Sanctuary was awarded through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act because of the preserve’s significant wetland habitats. “The pond provides essential habitat for waterfowl and on any given day can really be good theater,” said Nate Fuller, SWMLC conservation and stewardship director.
“It’s really a fun place for wildlife watching. During a typical spring visit, I’ll easily find three dozen different kinds of birds and several species of frogs and turtles.”