The Michigan DNR recently acquired 355 acres of land adjacent to the Barry State Game Area in southwest Michigan. Known as the Schoneboom property, this land parcel will provide increased wildlife-related recreation and habitat management opportunities at the game area.
The property, the largest addition to the Barry State Game Area in its history, consists of a mix of farmland, forest and wetlands and a segment of the Glass Creek. The Glass Creek, recognized as the highest-quality stream in the Thornapple River watershed, flows north through the game area and into the Thornapple River.
Strategic acquisition of land in priority areas is a critical component of the DNR Wildlife Division land acquisition strategy. Access to lands for hunting, trapping and other outdoor recreation is an important factor influencing participation in these activities. Research shows that individuals are more likely to pursue hunting activities if available lands are within 15 miles of their residence. In southern Michigan, only 3 percent of the land is publicly owned.
By acquiring the Schoneboom property, the DNR is making progress toward one recreational strategy ñ increasing the amount of public land open to wildlife-based recreation in southern Michigan by 25 percent, with an emphasis in areas with low per-capita access to public hunting lands.
Treva Schoneboom and her late husband, Wayne, spent most of their lives in Barry County. They have worked very closely with the DNR on several conservation projects, including trapping and relocating turkeys from their farm and participating in the Hunting Access Program.
DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said the property is important because it is a large inholding within the game area and the property contains the headwaters of the Glass Creek Watershed, which DNR staff have been involved in protecting for decades.
"We are extremely pleased that the Schoneboom property is now forever protected by the DNR as part of the Barry State Game Area, a project which the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy's Emily Wilke had been working to conserve for the past seven years," said Peter Ter Louw, the conservancy's president and executive director. "Partnering with the DNR and the conservation-focused Tyden Ventures, who provided essential acquisition funding, has been essential to SWMLC's success and accelerated our Barry County conservation work."
Ter Louw said the property is a conservation jewel whose acquisition was possible due to the Schonebooms' conservation ethic and love for the land.
"Partnerships, such as the one between SWMLC and Tyden Ventures, are a clear demonstration of management actions recommended by the Blue Ribbon Advisory Group for Southern Michigan State Game Areas," said Mason. "Continuing to partner with land conservancies, local business and interest groups will help secure future opportunities for Michigan residents to use and enjoy wild spaces in southern Michigan."
Funding for the acquisition of this land came from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of lands to state and local units of government for resource protection and outdoor recreation, as well as for public outdoor recreation development projects. It is funded through interest earned on funds derived from the development of publicly owned minerals. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mnrtf.