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Natural Area
Natural Area

The Environmental Center provides environmental education opportunities for the students, staff and community served by Lake Michigan College. Providing a broad spectrum of environmental activities, we hope to heighten environmental awareness and appreciation in our college and community.

Once a farmer's field and wood lot, the Lake Michigan College Natural Area on the Napier Avenue Campus is located in the northwest corner of the campus, just north of the softball field. This area contains more than a mile of trails which wind through five different habitats. These trails are maintained for the educational usage and enjoyment of our students, staff and local community.

Students and members of the community are invited to use this area to watch the seasons change, identify plants and animals, cross-country ski the trails, photograph the wonders, or draw, walk, and reflect. Visitors can follow a boardwalk trail more than a mile across a deciduous woods, pond and marsh, white pine forest, and old field environments. A prairie and grassland have been restored with native tall grasses. While the oldest residents of the site are huge 150-year-old beeches and maples, there are also elm, sycamore, white ash, white oak, basswood, shagbark hickory, and spicebush. Together, they create a spectacular show of color in the fall as well as provide a home for numerous species of birds. The woods are also home to amphibians, reptiles, and mammals including deer, rabbits, and squirrels.

Please help to preserve this area by remaining on the trails and boardwalk. Do not remove or disturb the plant or animal life. With your help, this sanctuary will remain a place of beauty and solace from our hectic world. We invite you to visit our natural area, walk its trails and enjoy its beauty as the seasons pass.

The 50-acre tract serves as a wildlife sanctuary and outdoor classroom in conjunction with the College's Environmental Center. 

Deciduous Woods
Deciduous refers to trees which lose their leaves annually. In this approximately three acre woodlot you can see a variety of trees and shrubs, including sugar maple, red maple, beech, elm, sycamore, white ash, white oak, basswood, shagbark hickory and spicebush. This mix of trees creates a blaze of color in the fall.

Pond and Marsh
One of the richest and most productive wildlife habitats, the pond and marsh are where you are most likely to spot a sunning turtle, frog or snake. Here salamanders, crayfish, birds and mammals can be seen at the water's edge. It is also home for a large number of insects and plants that provide food for the areas many inhabitants.

White Pine
This stand of pines was planted in 1967-68. The trees are very close together causing less light to filter through. This inhabits photosynthesis and causes the lower branches to die. As you walk the trail you can see how the trees which grow more quickly, shade the smaller trees until they too die. This naturally thins the stand.

Old Field
This area was once farmed, then abandoned. It is slowly progressing back to its natural state. This represents what is known as "old field" or secondary ecological succession. A variety of grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and young trees inhabit the area.

Prairie and Grassland
This open "prairie like" area is the habitat for many plants and animals not found in the woodlot. Here you may observe swallow, pheasant, quail, fox, rabbit, hawk, groundhog and small rodent. Along the edges of the grassland there are nesting boxes for the eastern bluebird which favors this type of habitat. This area contains many native tall grass prairie plant species.

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