With the recent acquisition of 78 acres of the Kauffman Nature Sanctuary, ACRES Land Trust in Allen County has its first foray into protecting land in Michigan. The Hillsdale County property brings the number of acres protected by the land trust to 7,230 across three states. 

“We’re excited to respond to people’s desire to protect local land,” says Jason Kissel, executive director of the nonprofit founded in 1960. “After 60 years of success in Indiana and Ohio, with Kauffman Nature Sanctuary, ACRES is able to demonstrate our work in Michigan, ensuring a local living legacy for generations. We’re eager to engage Michigan folks who want to help.”

Janet Kauffman bought the land and adjoining farmhouse in 1977, raised two boys and farmed hayfields in the front of the property for over a decade. 

“It’s a place that’s been transformed through those years from rectangular farm fields and a straight-line lane to the present meandering footpaths, wetlands and grasslands,” says Kauffman.

The USDA’s Wetland Reserve Program was able to restore broken drainage tiles on the land in 1988, allowing restoration of five pre-settlement wetlands, where Green Heron and Sandhill Cranes now live. The back of the property contains a cold water stream that leads to Lake Erie. 

The farmhouse, barn and two acres are not protected and will be sold to benefit ACRES. The land trust plans to open trails at the Kauffman Nature Sanctuary with a grand opening event in the fall.