Summer wild flowers, grasses and plants in bloom at the prairie fen of Ives Road Fen Preserve.
Ives Road Fen Preserve An alkaline spring-fed prairie blends into floodplain forest to create a globally significant fen habitat at Ives Road Fen Preserve. © Jen Moore

Places We Protect

Ives Road Fen Preserve

Michigan

Why is this Preserve Significant?

Within this 700-acre preserve, a wet, spring-fed prairie blends in to a floodplain forest to create a globally significant fen habitat. Fens are unusual, and increasingly rare, wetlands that receive water from underground alkaline springs rather than from precipitation. The water from this fen flows in rivulets through the thick grasses of the preserve, which help to filter the water before it empties into the River Raisin at the preserve's eastern edge. The River Raisin is one of the best warm water rivers in the state, and three of the four local communities downstream draw all of their drinking water from this river. 

Historically, most of the land in this preserve had been impacted by human activity including agriculture, sand and gravel mining, and drainage ditches. However, thanks to thousands of volunteer hours by local community members over the last two decades, this preserve is now largely restored to its natural state. 

What can I see here?

The fen is home to many rare plants, including the carnivorous sundew and pitcher plant, as well as the showy coneflower, prairie dropseed grass, tuberous Indian plantain, hairy-fruited sedge, beak grass, and prairie rose. In the upland areas, be sure to listen for the tree frog, the rare Blanchard’s cricket frog and a chorus of migratory and breeding birds such as the yellow-breasted chat, blue-winged warbler, and alder flycatcher. Also, be on the lookout for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, a federally-listed threatened species and Michigan's only venemous snake.

A chorus of spring peepers can be heard calling in mid-to-late March. The splendor of wildflowers and prairie grasses can be enjoyed from June to August. Be aware of poison ivy, poison sumac, chiggers and stinging nettle at this site. Because of the wet and uneven ground conditions, wear waterproof boots with ankle support.

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.

Trail Map

Permitted Activities

  • Foot access for hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching, etc.
  • Educational Studies
  • Geocaching
  • Hunting for white-tail deer with Conservancy permit
     

Prohibited Activities

  • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles, including but not limited to automobiles, off-road vehicles (ORVs), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles, snowmobiles, amphibious vehicles, and bicycles. All visitors must park at the gate and walk in.
  • No Pets
  • No hunting or trapping without a Conservancy-issued permit
  • No removal of trees, plants or animals (alive or dead)
  • No removal of rocks, water or other non-organic materials
  • No geocaching
  • No camping, bonfires, fireworks or other fires

 

Ives Road Fen Preserve has a long history of exceptional volunteer involvement. In the years following the creation of this preserve in 1987, The Nature Conservancy initiated recurring volunteer work days to control invasive glossy buckthorn. In 1997, a Volunteer Conservation Committee was formed under the extraordinary leadership of Chuck Pearson, who had led hundreds of volunteer days over the years. Chuck and the group of dedicated volunteers began weekly work days from April through November.

Then, on November 13, 2010, the last stand of adult glossy buckthorn was removed from this preserve, expanding the restored fen from five acres to almost 100 acres! This was a tremendous achievement, which would never have happened without the hard work of Chuck Pearson and the many members of the Volunteer Conservation Committee.

With the buckthorn removed, volunteers have turned their attention to other invasive plants such as autumn olive, honeysuckle, garlic mustard and dame’s rocket. They have also begun restoring the native prairie and surveying populations of the native massasauga rattlesnake. The Conservancy is deeply grateful for this group of dedicated volunteers and the thousands of hours they contribute to make Ives Road Fen such a beautiful, natural place. 

Join Us for Volunteer Work Days at Ives Road Fen Preserve 

Saturdays: April, May, September, October, November
Time: 8:50 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 
Location: 4997 N. Raisin Center Hwy, Tecumseh, Michigan 49286


Throughout the spring and fall, you will enjoy seeing butterflies and various bird species. In the spring months, we pull garlic mustard in the floodplain forest next to the River Raisin and enjoy the spring woodland wildflowers and some herptiles. In fall, we cut honeysuckle in the upland area near the prairie and enjoy the fall colors and fall fruits. Workdays include cold drinks and fresh chocolate chip cookies. As a volunteer, you will get a chance to see parts of the preserve that most visitors never get to see. 

Email Chuck Pearson at ivesroadfen@gmail.com or call 615-500-8229 if you are interested in volunteering.

Spotlight on Nature: Ives Road Fen Preserve