'We wanted to do something in his memory': Family donates land to conservation group


A local group dedicated to conservation just got a big gift.

The landowner of 35 acres of property on Mydra Road decided to donate it to Chikaming Open Lands.

Owner, Meryle Merritt, wanted to do something special for her late husband, Larry. They purchased the property back in 1990. The family mostly used it for recreation, like fishing and bonfires.

After Larry passed away three years ago, the family wanted to do something to honor his memory—so they donated the land.

The property will be known as The Merritt Family Preserve. It will be used to benefit conservation efforts in Berrien County.

"My husband Lawrence, Larry, loved the land and we wanted to do something in his memory that we thought would honor his love for land,” said Merritt. “He was a civil engineer so he worked with the land. That was his avocation and his vocation, and trying to think about what to do the Chikiming Open Lands came to mind."

With its beech-maple trees, fish pond, and wetlands-- the group will clear away the overgrown foliage to make way for hiking trails which will be open to the public.

Chikaming will also preserve the natural habitat for wildlife.

In a statement, Chikaming's executive director said, " "Berrien County has lost more than 50-percent of its original wetlands, which are critical to improving water quality, protecting wildlife habitat and minimizing potential flooding. For this reason, protecting wetlands in the area is very important."

"I think the fact that Larry enjoyed it so much out here and he would always find a way to have a chore out here and just let off a little steam. You can't work all the time and you have to have something to do for fun, and he really had fun doing it,” Merritt said.

She says this is the best way to remember her husband because he liked being in the woods and loved this land so much.

There is a dedication ceremony planned for August 19th at 3:00 p.m. It is open to the public.

The family says they are so grateful they could make this happen and it will help continue Larry's legacy for many years to come.

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