Friday, Jun 7, 2019
The Michigan Nature Association recently announced that it has permanently protected an additional 40 acres of important wildlife habitat at a new nature sanctuary in Brooks Township, Newaygo County. The land purchase for the new Brooks Oak-Pine Barrens Nature Sanctuary was made possible by a grant from The Conservation Fund with funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as part of a Karner blue butterfly mitigation project.
The Karner blue butterfly is one of Michigan’s rarest butterflies and is listed as endangered by the federal government. It requires dry-sand prairie and oak-barren habitats found in the Newaygo area that can support wild lupine, a native wildlflower. The larvae or caterpillar stage of the Karner blue butterfly feeds exclusively on wild lupine.
“The new acquisition is another important addition to a complex of conservation lands in Brooks Township that protect imperiled natural communities and rare species within a remarkable landscape," said Andrew Bacon, MNA’s Director of Conservation. “Although there are currently no Karner blue butterflies found at the new nature sanctuary, it is an excellent candidate for butterfly restoration given the high quality habitats that are present and the close proximity of existing Karner blue butterfly populations.”
“Any time we can secure additional habitat for this rare animal means we will have a greater chance of expanding its population and decreasing the risk of extinction,” added Bacon. The property also supports other rare plant species, such as the state-threatened prairie smoke, and provides suitable habitat for several other plants and animals recognized by the DNR as species of greatest conservation need in Michigan.
The North Country Trail runs along the easternmost portion of the property providing future opportunities for nature interpretation to teach the public about the unique plants and animals found at the new sanctuary and in the Newaygo area.
“We are excited to move forward with the restoration work needed at this newest MNA nature sanctuary to improve conditions for the Karner blue butterfly and other rare species,” concluded Bacon. “We especially want to thank our funding partners for making the project—and the new Brooks Oak-Pine Barrens Nature Sanctuary— a reality.”