Legacy Intern Helps Plan for Preserve’s Future

Each of Legacy’s preserves has its own detailed management plan. Think of this as a companion document to the land itself. In addition to outlining our vision for the property and the management objectives identified to realize that vision, these documents describe thoroughly the property’s ecological, geographical, historical, and social contexts. These documents both set the stage and outline the play, not only for our Land staff but for our Board of Trustees and for the public.

While the historical and geographical contexts of our preserve properties are relatively fixed, the sites’ natural and human communities experience and create change as time passes. For this reason, it is our practice to update these management plans every 5-8 years, depending on the rate of change and needs of the property.

Enter Legacy’s Lloyd and Mabel Johnson Preserve. At the time its current management plan was put together, the Johnson Preserve was still a relatively new acquisition. Roughly a third of the property was actively farmed in row crops, it had no dedicated parking area, and trails around the preserve’s buttonbush swamp were regularly impassable due to flooding. We’ve come a long way since then, and with that change comes a question: how has achieving our goals altered what we need to do in the future?

This summer Jessica Chesney, Eastern Michigan University (EMU) senior and Legacy’s summer Stewardship Intern, is helping us document both our progress on the Johnson Preserve and our plans for the future. Jessica is pursuing a degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in biology.

This updated management plan will reflect the transition of the agricultural fields to native wet-mesic prairie, which includes both an EMU research plot and a half-acre of Project Grow Community Gardens plots. It will celebrate the installation of a dedicated parking area, over 500 feet of raised plank boardwalk, and trails connecting the Johnson Preserve with Pittsfield Township’s Lillie Park, all with the help of nearly 2,000 hours of volunteer service.

The updated plan will also look to the future, capturing the management needs of the new prairie (more burns!), next steps for community engagement, and of course, more boardwalk.

The Johnson Preserve is an ecological gem in that its ecosystems are relatively high quality despite steady and long-standing impacts to surrounding lands. We intend to continue to actively support these ecosystems. But, given the preserve’s location — near to Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Saline — it also provides a wonderful opportunity to engage with and hear the individuals and communities this property is there to serve.

We are excited to work with Jessica this summer!  Welcome!

Jessica Chesney, Stewardship Intern

Jessica Chesney, Stewardship Intern
Jessica is a senior at Eastern Michigan University pursuing a degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in biology.  Jessica will be completing her internship at Legacy where she will update the Lloyd and Mabel Johnson Preserve Management Plan.  She is a lifelong environmentalist and during her high school career her passion for the earth and its inhabitants came to the forefront where she started a conservation club and helped her high school reach Michigan School Emerald Green Status.  Jessica lives in Ann Arbor with her husband, Darren, a United States Navy Veteran.  In her spare time Jessica enjoys hiking, traveling and cooking.  She is delighted to be here at Legacy and is grateful for this opportunity.

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