Bete Grise South Preserve protects a stellar and vital wetland along Lake Superior. The Preserve has been recognized by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory as the single most important coastal plain marsh remaining in the Upper Great Lakes region. Its 1,040 acres are biologically rich, with more than 300 species of plants, nesting sandhill cranes and bald eagles, ladyslipper orchids, carnivorous plants including sundews, bladderworts, and pitcher plants, and a high diversity of grasses and sedges. The intact estuarine marsh provides important habitats for fish and amphibians. The Bete Grise South Preserve has more than 7,500 feet of Lake Superior shoreline, much of which is beautiful sandy beach unrivaled in the Keweenaw.
The Preserve is open for non-motorized use by the public, including hiking, bird watching and nature study, canoeing, and kayaking. Bete Grise South's beach is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing during the summer months. A parking area is located along Gay-Lac La Belle Road. Motorized trespass on any of the protected wetlands is prohibited. Please do not remove plants or wildlife from the Preserve; numerous threatened or endangered species call this place home and collecting or harming them is punishable under Federal law.
The Preserve is the result of the Keweenaw Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (owners of the property), and the Michigan Coastal Zone Management program working together to protect this vulnerable shoreline. The Preserve borders Bete Grise Bay and stretches for 1.5 miles from Lac La Belle to Point Isabelle. KLT holds a conservation easement on the property, doubly protecting the nature area for future generations. The Nature Conservancy owns an adjoining 63-acre parcel with shoreline and fragile dunes.
Since this important first step was taken, additional land has been protected by partner organizations within this critical target area. An 840 acre parcel, Bete Grise North, was purchased by HKCD shortly after. Another 1,475 acres of high-quality wetlands, sand dune uplands, and 3,500 feet of shoreline frontage on Lac La Belle was purchased in 2010 with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) and other funding partners. Another 181 acres of land was purchased in 2013 with CELCP support, adding nearly 1.7 miles of Lake Superior shoreline around Point Isabelle. Together, these acquisitions provide significant advances toward the locally-driven initiative to protect the larger 8,000+ acre coastal wetland complex.
The following documents provide additional details about this nature area.