Activism by Southwest Michigan Group Sierra Club Members: Bill Strong Working in the Black River Preserve

Black River Preserve needed about 200 more trees. “I’m on it!” said Bill Strong.

Southwest Michigan Land ConservancyIn 2011, the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy won a grant to buy and restore 120 acres along the Black River near South Haven. The Black River Preserve is now one of 18 preserves that the SWMLC takes care of.

About two months ago, in mid-February, Bill Strong of the the Sierra Club’s Southwest Michigan Group started working with SWMLC Conservation and Stewardship Director Nate Fuller, Van Buren Conservation District Executive Director A.J. Brucks, and South Haven Troop 188 Scoutmaster Jeff Dick to organize an Earth Week tree planting in the Preserve.

Scouts and other volunteers planting trees at the Black River PreserveOn Saturday, April 18, about fifty volunteers grabbed their shovels, met up at the Black River Preserve, and planted 200 new trees. The planting included hickory, dogwood, plum, and other trees native to the area.
AJ Brucks

AJ Brucks, Executive Director, Van Buren Conservation District

On the weekend after the tree planting, the Van Buren Conservation District held a sale of tree seedlings in South Haven. VBCD Executive Director AJ Brucks reports that during the three-day sale – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 24-26 – “Many people that went to the planting came and purchased trees and also made mention that the planting at Black River Preserve was great!” To those who took part in the tree planting, she added, “Way to go, everyone, and keep up the great work.”

Bill Strong and his Band of Black River Preserve Heroes

Volunteer planters

From left: Janice Varney of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy Board of Directors; Nate Fuller, Conservation and Stewardship Director, SWMLC; Bill Strong; Jan Peterson Secretary of the Board of Directors, Van Buren Soil Conservation District; Mary Colborn, Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group volunteer.

South Haven Boy Scout Troop 188

Many thanks to Pastor Jeff Dick, Scoutmaster, and South Haven Boy Scout Troop 188!

Press coverage

Headline in South Haven Tribune April 12 edition

Headline in South Haven Tribune April 12 edition

The Black River Preserve restoration project generated press coverage, before and after the tree planting. The South Haven Tribune and the Kalamazoo Gazette publicized the project in their April 12 editions, which undoubtedly brought more volunteers to the Black River Preserve. On Friday, April 24, the Paw Paw Courier-Leader, which also serves, Lawton, Mattawan, Lawrence, and Gobles, used the Boy Scout photo above in their report. Their article also carried this announcement from Bill:

The South Haven Boy Scout Troop members will be nominated for a Keep Michigan Beautiful (KMB) award acknowledging their contribution to the environmental improvement and beautification of Michigan.

The Courier-Leader also covered the event!

More about the Black River Preserve in this video