Fort Gratiot Nature Preserve

Submitted by Laurie A. Dennis
Blue Water Audubon Society Member, Friends of the St. Clair River Steward

The Fort Gratiot Nature Preserve is a multifaceted natural area owned and maintained by the Charter Township of Fort Gratiot, Michigan.  The Fort Gratiot Nature Preserve is accessible from M-25 (24th Avenue), Fort Gratiot, through the Fort Gratiot Meijer store south end parking lot along a terrain of sand dunes, shaded by trees and native grasses. Other access can be made from the Parker Road entrances and parking areas north of Keewahdin Road. The nature preserve is made up of several natural areas that provide many recreational options and that benefit many diverse groups.  A wide paved pathway circles the Kettlewell Pond which provides access for biking, walking, running, fishing, and wildlife viewing. A fishing platform provides ADA accessibility to the water’s edge.  Families on bicycle rides, joggers, bird watchers and dog walkers are seen daily on this well maintained pathway. The Kettlewell Pond in the center of the trail is excellent habitat for many species of waterfowl, birds of prey, and migrating birds in spring and fall; making this location one of the best birding spots in the Blue Water Area. The shoreline growth provides ample nesting habitat for many waterfowl, along with protection for local fish and amphibian species that live and spawn in the waters. Native tree plantings and control of non-native plants are important steps being taken around the preserve to maintain a natural habitat.

Connected to the main nature trail is a pathway leading to the parking area for McIntyre Park and Fort Gratiot Pond. McIntyre Park features sheltered picnic tables, benches and playground equipment. The Fort Gratiot Pond includes a course plotted for use by the Fort Gratiot Yacht Club for radio controlled boating and a gazebo for viewing.  Many native flower gardens are maintained to attract native butterflies and caterpillars to the park area. McIntyre Park and surrounding area are the perfect outdoor location for the annual “Scarecrow Saturday” event open to the entire community to celebrate the fall season with numerous family events.

The wetland area, south of the path area, left in its natural state provides a buffer zone for the Nature Preserve. The native habitat is teeming with amphibians, mammals and avian life. Many migrating birds are seen throughout this area during spring and fall and occasionally a rare bird sighting is reported.

The paved pathway winds to the west across Parker Road and over creeks and through grassy areas. A complete biking or walking course from Meijer parking lot around the McIntyre Pond and ending at Keewahdin Road near Fort Gratiot School can measure up to 3.4 miles. For more information regarding the Fort Gratiot Nature Preserve contact the Fort Gratiot Charter Township Office, 810-385-4489

Fort Gratiot Nature Preserve Bird List 2018 (Page 1)

Fort Gratiot Nature Preserve Bird List 2018 (Page 2)