Rolling sand dunes with green grass along a lake shore.
Zetterberg Preserve Sand dunes at Zetterberg Preserve at Point Betsie. © Jason Whalen

Stories in Michigan

Protecting Our Land

From highlands to fens to farmlands, the abundance of Michigan's lands shapes our lives.

Place is transcendent—far more than a name on a map. In Michigan and around the world, the well-being of people is tied to the well-being of the land we live on. Since our founding in 1951, we have directly protected over 125 million acres around the world—but our commitment to science, innovation and learning means our impact extends even further.

Today, TNC works shoulder-to-shoulder with natural resource managers, farmers, foresters and landowners at all scales to safeguard entire natural systems. Together, we demonstrate how science-based tools and practices can chart a more sustainable course for the lands we all depend on.


View of rolling, forested hills along a lake.
The view from Mt. Baldy One of the many views to glimpse of Helmut & Candis Stern Preserve at Mt. Baldy in the Keweenaw. © Jason Whalen

Did You Know?

TNC has protected close to 400,000 acres in Michigan, and we currently own and manage over 103,000 acres across the state.

These efforts help ensure the future of some of Michigan’s most vital lands and waters, and their many benefits to people and wildlife.

Our Work

People have thrived on Michigan’s two great peninsulas for thousands of years. From highlands to fens to farmlands, the abundance of these lands continues to shape our lives, and the future of Michigan. Explore our strategies for land protection below.

A forest of brightly colored autumn trees.
Wilderness Lakes in Autumn Autumn at Wilderness Lakes Reserve in Baraga County, Upper Peninsula of Michigan. © Dietrich Ludwig


TNC’s approach to land protection includes acquisition, conservation easements, innovative financing solutions, policy advocacy and more. These strategies allow us to achieve meaningful protection of Michigan lands, and support the wildlife and people that benefit from the clean air and water and other services that healthy lands provide.

On forest reserves like our Wilderness Lakes Reserve, TNC shows how the right practices can not only promote forest health and biodiversity, but also help reduce the greenhouse gases that lead to a warming climate. Established by TNC in 2017, this reserve was later expanded to over 10,000 protected acres of spectacular forestland, high-quality wetlands and glacial lakes.

TNC Preserves

Today, TNC has over 35 preserves and reserves in Michigan. These are TNC-owned lands that have been protected for people and nature in perpetuity.

Preserves are protected land that has been set aside in perpetuity for the primary purpose of conservation. A reserve is “working land” that acts as a learning laboratory.

Explore our preserves and reserves RETURN

Controlled Burn

A burn crew conducted a controlled burn at the Ives Road Fen Preserve.

Learn more


TNC is a leader in natural areas restoration and management. On TNC and partner-owned lands, we restore forest diversity and health, conduct controlled burns in fire-dependent landscapes, remove invasive plants, restore the hydrology of wetlands and more. These science-based techniques maintain the ecological integrity and significance of Michigan’s habitats.

In southern Michigan, TNC has protected over 1,500 acres of savannas and rare fens—a type of wetland—that filter the headwaters of major rivers like the Grand River. Restoration efforts include thousands of volunteer hours spent removing invasive species such as glossy buckthorn and the use of controlled fire, which allows this habitat to regenerate.

The sun sets over a body of water covered in lily pads.
Erie Marsh In 2011, TNC implemented a multi-year project to restore 946 acres of highly degraded coastal wetlands at Erie Marsh. © Jason Whalen
A cap in the tree canopy exposes the sky.
Two Hearted River TNC has been creating canopy gaps in our 23,000-acre Two Hearted River Forest Reserve, which is dominated by sugar maple. These forests were at one time more diverse. © Drew Kelly
Rocks and driftwood along the shore of a lake as the sun rises.
North Point at dawn North Point, Lake Huron, at dawn. © Ron Leonetti


Our conservation impact is magnified when we work together. TNC works with state, tribal and federal agencies, local land trusts and others working in conservation in Michigan, to enhance our shared capacity for tangible, lasting results. For example, TNC frequently assists partners with the purchase of lands that will become local or state parks, and shares tools such as our resilient connected network map to help partners plan their efforts.

In 2018, TNC acquired 1,400 acres and four miles of shoreline on the North Point Peninsula, surrounded by Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary. By holding this special property until we could transfer it to a local nonprofit group, we secured protection for habitat that shelters thousands of migratory birds every year, as well as rare species like the dwarf lake iris


TNC’s protected lands provide people with valuable opportunities to connect with nature. We maintain our preserves and reserves to achieve the right balance of use so that natural systems flourish, and people can have meaningful experiences in the outdoors. We strive to provide access to nature both in person and virtually, to enhance awareness of the importance of conservation and inspire people to take action to protect Michigan’s lands themselves.

Places We Protect

From shifting sand dunes to granite bald mountains, explore our 35 preserves and reserves spread across the state of Michigan.

Explore Now
The light peeks through the trees and lights a dirt trail.
A rock formation on a calm shore.
Snow drifts along the shore of a lake.
A stream winds through a grassy fen.
A lighthouse along a lakeside

Land Strategy that Works

Download our fact sheet to explore TNC's work to protect Michigan's lands.