Open to the Public
This land is open for foot access and activities such as hiking, birdwatching and cross-country skiing. View All
Van Buren County in the Lower Peninsula View All
Ancient sand dunes from the shores of postglacial Lake Nipissing created a mosaic of botanical communities on this 1,449-acre preserve, the most outstanding being three coastal plain marshes. These wet meadows occur in sandy basins along the shores of small lakes and ponds and harbor plants and animals ordinarily found in marshes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The diverse flora includes eight species that are either endangered or rare, including globe-fruited seedbox, meadow beauty, appressed bog clubmoss (Lycopodiella subappressa) and netted nut-rush. The preserve also contains wooded inland dunes, wetlands, small lakes and northern hardwood forests.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The generosity of H. Stewart Ross and his family made the first 1,254 acres of the preserve a reality in 1988. Part of the settlement of their family estate included this wonderful site. The family gave the Conservancy approximately half of the funds necessary to acquire the acreage and the Conservancy provided the rest.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Four purchases from other landowners since then have resulted in the 1,449 acres protected here by the Conservancy.
Because this 1,449 acre preserve is one of the larger unfragmented woods in southern Michigan, it provides important habitat for many bird species, especially during spring and fall migration. Many species can be observed in the mix of habitats found at Ross. Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen as well as sturdy walking shoes or boots.
The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for white-tail deer on this preserve to reduce an unnaturally high deer population in the area and reduce threats too many deer pose to our conservation targets. All hunters are required to receive a permit from the Conservancy as well as a Michigan deer hunting license. Additionally, hunters must report any deer taken from the preserve.
- Foot access for hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching, etc.
- Educational studies
- Firearm and bow hunting with a Conservancy-issued permit for whitetail deer
- No Motorized and non-motorized vehicles
- No Pets
- No hunting or trapping without a Conservancy-issued permit
- No removal of plants or animals (alive or dead)
- No removal of rocks, water or other non-organic materials
- No camping, bonfires, fireworks or other fires
Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines."
From Watervliet, Michigan:
- From Watervliet's intersection of I-94 and M-140 (Exit 41), take M-140 north 6.2 miles to CR-376 (a.k.a. 44th Avenue).
- Turn left (west) on CR-376 and travel 3.3 miles to a dirt driveway with a locked vehicle gate on your right (north side of road), opposite the "Dune Lake Campground" sign.
- Park in the pull-out near the gate. The walk-through entrance is located on the west side of the locked vehicle gate