Aldo Leopold Festival to feature preserves owned by The Nature Conservancy

Guided tours of coastal wetlands, forest and rare alvar landscapes available to attendees

Alvar grassland with an abundance of prairie smoke plants.
Prairie Smoke at Maxton Alvar grassland with an abundance of prairie smoke plants. © Chris Cantway/TNC

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Preserves managed by The Nature Conservancy Michigan's chapter (TNC) will be on full display during the Aldo Leopold Festival, June 1-5, in Les Cheneaux, Mich. TNC is proud to be a sponsor of the festival, which celebrates the legacy of one of America’s most celebrated naturalists, Aldo Leopold.

“The three TNC preserves highlighted at the Aldo Leopold Festival provide a look at the diverse landscapes that make Michigan so special,” said Helen Taylor, state director of TNC's Michigan chapter. “This festival is a great way to celebrate a pioneer of wildlife ecology and the United States' wilderness system by connecting with the land that shaped Aldo Leopold’s love for the outdoors and his drive to protect it.”

Guided tours are available at the following preserves:

  • John Arthur Woollam Preserve includes 4,300 feet of stunning rocky shoreline with huge boulders and coastal wetlands, as well as 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.
  • Carl A. Gerstacker Nature Preserve protects a large expanse of contiguous forest on and near the Lake Huron shoreline to support migratory birds on their journey north and south, as well as safeguard other rare plants and animal species. An audio tour of this preserve is also available for outdoor enthusiasts unable to attend the festival.
  • Maxton Plains is a 1,210-acre preserve that protects the globally significant alvar landscape and ten Michigan state-rare plants, eight found in the alvars and two found in the forests. The alvars found on Drummond Island are the largest remaining high-quality alvars in North America. The Maxton Plains Preserve protects nesting and feeding habitat for the state-threatened osprey. Alvar is a Swedish term used to describe dry grasslands found on limestone pavements.

Registration is required for guided tours of TNC preserves and other events. A full schedule of events is available online.

The Nature Conservancy is proud to maintain about 55,000 acres of nature preserves across Michigan—from mountainous highlands to wetlands and prairie fens.

In 1898, the Leopold family bought a summer cottage on Marquette Island. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, he regularly explored the Les Cheneaux area and created intricate, hand-drawn maps of the area. His summers on the island and exploring the area were the start of a lifetime dedicated to studying nature.

Images of each preserve are available here.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.