Sugar Island Preserve Established

ST. MARY’S RIVER - A 202-acre property with nearly a mile of Lake Huron/St. Mary’s River shoreline was recently purchased for protection. The purchase was made possible with a significant grant from Professor and Mrs. John A. Woollam and the J. A. Woollam Foundation, Inc. as well as federal wetland protection funds. The island is well known as a hot spot for viewing migratory great gray and snowy owls.

The new preserve is primarily composed of shoreline-associated wetlands which are of vital importance to many wildlife species. The habitat is ideal for bird species including spruce grouse ( Michigan special concern), many duck species, black terns ( Michigan special concern), sedge wren, long-eared owl, and many more. In addition, marshes of the St. Mary’s River are known to be critical as nursery habitat for Michigan sport fish species.

“ Sugar Island is uniquely situated a short distance from the Canadian boreal forest in the middle of the St. Mary’s River migration corridor,” said Dr. Tom Allan, Associate Professor of Biology at Lake Superior State University . “Migrating birds hit the island and find a good mix of habitat appealing to a wide diversity of wildlife.”

The Conservancy currently owns three other preserves on Sugar Island : the 85-acre Pickering Hay Point Preserve, the 38-acre Cook Island Preserve, and the 20-acre Koren Preserve (see map). In addition, the new preserve is in close proximity to large blocks of land owned by the University of Michigan Biological Station .

Since the original preserve was established in the spring of 2004, the Conservancy has purchased two more tracts totaling 160 acres and bringing the preserve size to 362 acres.