Three species of wildflowers are found nowhere on Earth but along the Great Lakes and they all thrive at Grass Bay—the diminutive dwarf lake iris (blooming in purple or white), Pitcher’s thistle and Houghton’s goldenrod. The songs of such neotropical migrants as the black-throated blue warbler and the prairie warbler can be heard throughout the diverse landscape of shoreline, open dunes, interdunal wetlands, coniferous swamps and forests. It is home to 12 of Michigan’s 13 coniferous species and over 300 plant species.
The Nature Conservancy first became aware of Grass Bay’s amazingly lush and diverse flora in 1978. When the original 80-acre parcel went on the market in 1979, TNC secured an option to purchase it. Because the Federated Garden Clubs of Michigan treasured this site and also wanted to see it protected, they launched a very successful multi-year campaign to raise money to assist TNC in purchasing the original parcel, plus approximately 100 more acres soon after.