ARCADIA, Mich. (Michigan News Source)- Birdwatching has become the number one outdoor activity in Michigan. In summer of 2019 a bird habitat that was difficult to enjoy became easily accessible to birders for the first time. In fact, the Arcadia Marsh Preserve is expected to be one of the top 10 destinations in Michigan. The Arcadia Marsh Preserve Boardwalk provides visitors with unparalleled access to a rare ecosystem, a Great Lakes Coastal Marsh.
Great Lakes marshes are unique areas where the land and water meet. It has been estimated that 80% of the original Great Lakes Marshes have been lost. Marsh ecosystems are very productive, and the Arcadia Marsh is one of only about 15 that remain on Lake Michigan in the lower peninsula. Once, there was only a short trail on the edge of the marsh. Now a broad ¾ mile long boardwalk will extend from the parking area, across the inland water, into the heart of the marsh itself. The boardwalk follows an old railroad grade. It is suspended two feet above ground-level due to lake levels variations and to protect native plants and soil. The plans include a path for hiking, bump-outs with benches, observation platforms and accessible fishing piers. Interpretive signs will be placed explaining what makes a marsh important to water quality and the views.
The Arcadia Marsh is rare for size as well, more than 270 acres of wetland have been protected in the Preserve. At last count, it was determined that more than 180 species of birds hang there. Watchers gather to observe the migrating waterfowl like blue and green herons along with sand hill cranes. Endangered and threatened species can be found here as well, seventeen at last tally. Birders can add several species to their logs. Rare birds that can be found in the interior of the marsh include American and Least Bitterns, Bewick’s Wren, the Black-Billed Magpie, Purple Gallinule and Nelson’s Sparrow; none of which I could identify. The boardwalk is a boon in the winter months as well when rough-legged hawks and snowy owls have been reported. In all seasons the marsh is home to deer, mink, otters and marsh hare, not to mention 25+ species of fish. Another awesome Michigan back roads trail.