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What to See at the Ecosystem Preserve

west trail

Walking Trails

Come walk the woods, and enjoy God's amazing creation.

We invite you to explore the Ecosystem Preserve and its 40 acres of forest, wetlands and meadows. One mile of trails are available for wandering, taking in the beauty of each season, and discovering flora and fauna typical of West Michigan. Two hundred species of plants inhabit the Preserve, including several trees approaching 250 years old, and the smallest plant in the world, called Water-meal. Numerous species of animals have been identified or reside in the Preserve, including 18 species of amphibians and reptiles, 170 bird species (about 60 nest here), and 26 species of mammals.

To learn more about the natural history of the preserve, check out our trail map, and download our vertebrate checklist and vascular plant checklist of all the animals and plants that have been seen in the preserve.

Bunker Interpretive Center

Our award-winning Helen and Vincent Bunker Interpretive Center is LEED certified, and has a number of environmentally friendly features. We encourage you to stop in and check out our seasonal educational displays, view some Michigan frogs and turtles up close, read a storybook or two, star in your own puppet show, and visit with our friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Throughout the year, we offer a variety of educational programs for all ages. Please visit the educational programs pages to see our current schedule of events and programs.

Butterfly House

During the summer months (June to September), our butterfly house is home to a variety of native butterflies in their various life stages, and their native host and nectar plants. You are welcome to visit the butterfly house and see these delightful creatures up close. Feel free to bring a camera for some great photo opportunities.

Native Gardens

The Bunker Interpretive Center is surrounded by native gardens, including a rain garden and dry prairie garden that feature plants native to West Michigan. These plants are better adapted to our environment than horticultural species. They do not require irrigation or fertilization. Thus, they help conserve water and limit the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Additionally, native plants are beneficial to birds, butterflies, and a variety of insects, by providing a good source of food and shelter. During the fall and winter, a variety of birds can be seen feeding on seed heads throughout our gardens. In the spring and summer, butterflies, bees, and other insects can be seen sipping on the nectar of these flowers.

Join us the first Saturday in May for our annual Native Plant Sale, and learn how you can incorporate native plants into your own garden.

Fauna and Flora

red wing blackbird

Male Red Wing Blackbird

yellow mushroom

Yellow Mushroom in Leaf Litter

wood frog on leaf

Wood Frog

butterfly house

Monarch Butterfly

native garden

Native Gardens