|Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary|
Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary
Location within the state of Michigan
|Location||Lower Peninsula, Cass County, Michigan USA|
|Nearest city||Dowagiac, Michigan|
|Area||384 acres (155 ha)|
|Governing body||Michigan Nature Assoc. (non-profit)|
Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary, commonly referred to as Dowagiac Woods, is a 384-acre (155 ha) woods located in Cass County, Michigan. It is maintained and preserved by the Michigan Nature Association which is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Michigan's exceptional natural habitats and extraordinary and endangered plants and animals.
This woods was virtually unknown even to people living nearby until 1975, when it came to the attention of the Michigan Nature Association because of a report from a member that Blue-eyed Mary grew there. Response to an appeal by the Michigan Nature Association in 1981 for $110,000 to purchase the woods was overwhelming. Despite poor economic conditions in the state at the time, the campaign was completed in one year. Over 550 individual contributions were given, climaxed by a $20,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation. In a marvelous show of cooperation, twenty percent of the amount needed was raised in Cass County alone.
In February 2009, MNA purchased adjacent acreage to expand Dowagiac Woods to 384 acres (155 ha). It is MNA’s largest sanctuary in the Lower Peninsula.
About the Sanctuary
Plants flourish at Dowagiac Woods in countless numbers. Over fifty species of wildflowers bloom in the spring. After the first flowers open, hepatica and bloodroot start, quickly followed by a profusion of blooming that continues right up through the time of Trillium grandiflorum. The tulip tree occurs in great numbers in the central forest, which is on slightly higher ground than the lowlands. Buds of the tulip tree unfold early.
A top attraction in the Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary is the abundance of blue-eyed Mary, Collinsia verna. For six full weeks, beginning early in April, it reigns supreme. Over 150 beds can be seen from the trail, each averaging ten by twenty feet square.
Nearly fifty kinds of trees have been found at Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary, including blue beech, black ash, black walnut and hackberry. The Ohio buckeye also thrives here in all sizes, from seedlings to one very tall tree that two people can scarcely reach around. The buckeye is the first tree to leaf out in the spring and blooms in late April.