A gathering at the Asylum Lake Preserve in Kalamazoo on Saturday, May 18, invites residents to tour the green space, learn about its history and help protect its future. The event is from 1-5 p.m. and begins at the Parkview entrance.
As you enter the Asylum Lake Preserve from Parkview Avenue you can still hear traffic noise, but that noise is soon replaced by sounds of nature in the form of bird calls, wind rustling through trees and grasses, and the splashing of water.
This piece of land has a long history and members of the Asylum Lake Preservation Association hope the Saturday gathering will help to ensure an equally long future. Lauri Holmes is vice-prsident of the Asylum Lake Preservation Association.
“My husband and I have been living on Highpoint Drive, right next to the preserve and we have just fallen in love with the place," she says. "The preserve is not surrounded by houses and families. Being bounded by Parkview, Stadium and Drake, it’s a reach to reach people and have them realize that we need to care for this place. So that’s what we hope the message is that we get across on Saturday, as well as celebrating the fact that we have this wonderful gift here.”
Steve Keto is Western Michigan University’s Natural Areas and Preserves Manager. He oversees Asylum Lake.
“So you can see the different types of habitats that we do have here," he said as he led visitors through the area. "We have prairie, savannah, forest, wet meadows, open water and emergent marsh type habitats, so there are a lot of animal habitats here. It’s not as fragmented as other woodlots. We have 274 contiguous acres, which makes a big difference for wildlife. Smaller woodlots can’t always support populations of even something as small as warblers. So here we do see a nice mix of wildlife, both resident and migratory.”
After a walk through the forest, visitors to the preserve come to a creek.
“This is a nice place for watching birds and for children to walk around on the rocks in the creek. There’s something about creeks isn’t there, with kids?," says Holmes.
Holmes continues: "So, the Saturday event is a focus for wanting to be sure that we have an understanding of what the preserve is and how marvelous it’s potential is and how important it is to have people who are stewards of it as Klinestuck has done. So what we’re doing is we’re going to dedicate a memorial to Monte and Renay Piercey at the Parkview entrance."
Holmes says The Audubon Society will lead birding tour. Steve Keto and Tyler Bassett will offer a tour of the plants.
“Everything is focused through the lens of three things. And that is ecological health, passive recreation and education and research," says Keto. "So what happens here at the preserve has to fall within those three things.”
After the creek, it’s a short walk to Asylum Lake. The beach there is a favorite spot for Holmes to stop.
“The prevailing wind is from the west," she says. "So what you see almost anytime you stand here is that lovely breeze blowing toward you as you stand on the beach.”
Keto says he is thankful for the people who use the preserve.
“So, if you come here to walk with your dogs or your kids, or you come for a nice day to sit in the sun, or if you come to ice fish on the lake in the wintertime, that’s the group of people who we are happy to have come here," he says. "From that group we will build a group of people who want to serve.”