The John Arthur Woollam Preserve is a popular spot for migratory birds to rest and refuel.
Shoreline at Woollam Preserve The John Arthur Woollam Preserve is a popular spot for migratory birds to rest and refuel. © © TNC

Places We Protect

John Arthur Woollam Preserve


The 4,300 feet of sand and cobble beach on Lake Huron are a highlight of this preserve.

The 185-acre John Arthur Woollam Preserve consists of 4,300 feet of stunning rocky shoreline with huge boulders and coastal wetlands, and a coniferous forest grading into northern hardwoods. The preserve offers significant shoreline for migratory and breeding birds and habitat for plant species such as Houghton's goldenrod. Visitors might also see a variety of animals including the loon, pileated woodpecker, osprey, deer, and several species of neotropical migratory songbirds, such as the American redstart and magnolia warbler. 

Why TNC Selected This Site

From 1993 to 1994, Nature Conservancy scientists studied the importance of the northern Lake Huron shoreline ecosystem to migrating and breeding birds. While considerable research had been done on breeding and wintering habitat, little research had focused on songbird migration stopover sites in the Great Lakes. 

The results were eye-opening. In springtime, northbound birds crossing Lake Huron stopped to refuel near the lake’s shores. The reason: warm, nearshore waters yield masses of flying insects-midges, mostly-providing a movable feast for the birds. Scientists had predicted otherwise. They anticipated birds would search for leafed-out trees inland, and fewer birds would be along the shoreline where trees are slower to leaf-out. 

TNC’s study showed that in order to help birds during migration, we must protect the shoreline. The northern Lake Huron study is but one step in learning about the habits and patterns of birds in the Great Lakes region. 

Science teaches us that the webs of life are intricate and deeply inter-related. The Nature Conservancy and its partners in this study (Central Michigan University, the Michigan DNR, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the National Biological Service) are committed to understanding and preserving these complex interrelationships for today and tomorrow. 

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

In 2013 the property (already under a conservation easement since 2002) was donated to TNC by a fellow conservationist who was honored to see the land dedicated as the John Arthur Woollam Preserve in recognition of the thousands of acres and many miles of shoreline and inland lakes protected by John Woollam. The preserve is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, on behalf of the many land conservancies and individuals who join us in honoring Dr. Woollam’s accomplishments.

The month of May presents one of the best times of the year to visit this preserve as migratory songbirds are either resting, en route to other destinations, or settling on breeding territories for the summer. Bring insect repellent, sturdy shoes, a hat, and sunscreen. The 1.14 miles of trail are available year-round for hiking or snowshoeing.

Permitted Activities:

  • Hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing
  • Bird watching, nature study, and photography
  • Research projects and educational studies with approved permit

Prohibited Activities:

  • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles
  • No building of new trails
  • No pets
  • No hunting or trapping
  • 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
  • No firewood collecting
  • No littering
John Author Woollam Preserve The new John Arthur Woollam Preserve protects 4,300 feet of northern Lake Huron shoreline and provides habitat for Michigan species such as Houghton’s goldenrod, Pitcher’s thistle and pileated woodpecker.