michigan nature association
There are hundreds of places around Michigan where nature photographers can visit to photograph, but few are as pristine and untouched as those properties owned by the Michigan Nature Association. This organization uses private funding and donations to purchase select properties of wilderness, often where endangered native species are found, or that have particularly unique habitats or residents. As a non-profit organization, they have been operating since 1952.The advantage of the MNA actually purchasing property is that they solely control how it is used.
There are no ties to the government, city councils, any political organization, or special interest groups. Except for minimal intervention for trail marking and maintenance, the MNA essentially lets nature manage itself in these areas, and it seems to do just fine. There is no hunting, fishing, camping, or trapping allowed. However, visitors are welcome for hiking, birding, photography, or simply a leisure stroll through the woods. Even with these activities they encourage minimal impact and respect for the fragile environments. A few sanctuaries are classified as so pristine; they can only be visited when accompanied by a guide.
The MNA owns over 140 properties in Michigan (upper and lower peninsula), and the number seems to be growing. Recently they are concentrating on the remaining wetlands in Southeastern Michigan, which are constantly under threat of new development. As a benefit to their members, the MNA has published several books and videos that offer maps and details about each property, which we have found to be an invaluable resource for finding new places to photograph. Their guidebook is filled with information about what types of trees, native flowers and orchids, and general history of each location. It belongs in your car at all times right next to your DeLorme Michigan map book. They also conduct field trips throughout the year, which offer excellent opportunities to meet other members and to learn more about each preserve.
Information about the MNA seems to be spread mostly by word of mouth, which is how we found out about them. We would like to encourage anyone interested preserving wilderness areas in Michigan to check out the Michigan Nature Association. Membership fees are minimal, and the results of their efforts are priceless. I recommend donating as much as possible as organizations like this need to stay around.
More information about the Michigan Nature Association can be found at their website: