Preserve Visitation Guidelines

Preserve Visitation Guidelines

While we encourage you to visit our preserves, please understand they are private properties, managed to protect native species and natural communities. The Conservancy keeps trails and facilities to a minimum on its preserves in order to steer visitors away from their most ecologically fragile portions and toward those that can tolerate more use.

Most Conservancy preserves are open for careful public use as long as visitors enjoy these lands for passive recreation only: hiking, bird watching, nature study and photography. Some, however, can only be visited for educational or research purposes with permission from the Conservancy stewardship staff and are listed as "special access only." Contact the Michigan field office at michigan@tnc.org or call (517) 316-0300 for information about visiting these places.

When visiting any of our preserves, please follow these simple guidelines. This will do more than protect the species living there-it will ensure that others are also able to enjoy the experience.


  • Stay on marked paths and trails, and keep group sizes small. Special permission is needed for groups larger than 15 people.
  • Motorized vehicles, off-road vehicles, and bicycles are strictly prohibited.
  • Pets are not permitted on preserves, even with a leash.
  • Horseback riding is only allowed on designated horse trails.
  • Smoking, camping and fires are prohibited.
  • Removing any plants, rocks, or animals is prohibited. Firewood collecting is also not allowed.
  • Do not remove any stakes, poles, signs, markers or other objects as they may be part of an ongoing study or class.
  • Do not litter.
  • Do not trespass on land adjacent to Conservancy preserves.

Safety Suggestions:

  • Wear footwear suitable for hiking. You may wish to wear long pants with socks pulled over the cuffs and long sleeves to protect yourself from mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks, poison ivy, or poison sumac.
  • Check weather reports before you go so you can dress appropriately-wearing layers is a good idea with the unpredictable Michigan weather.
  • Keep in mind there are no restroom facilities on our preserves.
  • Go with someone. If you must go alone, let someone know where you're going.
  • Bring a cell phone with you, if possible. Consider an alternate plan in case area phone coverage is scarce.
  • Avoid parking in tall grass where the heat from your car's catalytic converter can start a fire.
  • At remote preserves, bring a compass and topographic map to avoid getting lost.
  • Deer hunting by permit, license fee, or retained right occurs on certain preserves. The seasons run from October 1-January 1. Take proper precautions by wearing orange if you decide to visit during these times.
  • Bring water with you.
  • Bears can be found on preserves in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. Making a moderate amount of noise while walking will help to prevent startling them.
  • If you're allergic to bees, remember to bring along a bee sting kit.
  • Check your skin for ticks after visiting a preserve.

To Reduce Ecological Impact:

  • Use trails and firebreaks where they are present. Do not make new trails. If you must walk where there are no trails, do not walk in single lines but rather walk abreast, separated by an arm's length or more. This minimizes trampling of vegetation and the creation of new trails.
  • Be aware that seeds stick to shoes and clothing. You may introduce non-native weeds into a preserve without knowing it. Try to enter preserves from areas that are as free as possible from weeds. Inspect pant legs and shoes (including soles) and remove any seeds before entering preserves.
  • Avoid walking in boggy or wet areas where soils are saturated and soft. These areas are especially sensitive to vegetation trampling.
  • If you flush a ground-nesting bird, stop and walk around the nest area. Eggs and nestlings are well concealed and can be easily crushed.

ADA Accessibility

In accordance with the Department of Justice’s amended regulation implementing Title III of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding "Other Power‐Driven Mobility Devices,” The Nature Conservancy is completing an assessment of its nature preserves in Michigan. Please visit our nature preserve accessibility assessment page for more information.

What You Can Do to Help The Nature Conservancy:

When you visit a preserve, please help be our eyes and ears. If you see any damage to a preserve or things we need to correct please contact Conservancy stewardship staff at (517) 316-0300 or michigan@tnc.org.

If you live near a preserve, we need your help to keep an eye on it. We often need volunteers to help with a variety of projects ranging from trail maintenance to research. Please contact us for more information.


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