Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve

Old Mission Peninsula is known for its scenic views, rolling hills, sandy beaches, a lighthouse and of course–its vineyards. Set between the East and West Bays (part of Lake Michigan), the peninsula is uniquely situated, which, turns out, is quite ideal for growing grapes. Over the past few years, these vineyards have been producing some world-renowned wines. Thanks to the climactic properties of being between two bodies of water, the grapes produce some delicious vintages. And much like the West Coast of the United States, wine tours have become extremely popular. Visitors both near and far come to pack the tasting rooms. It is a lot of fun: a true Old Mission Peninsula treasure.

The Wallflower

But Old Mission Peninsula offers another treasure, one not frequented by  shoals of enthusiastic tourists: Brinkman Bog Nature Preserve (one of the preserves I wanted to visit to complete my lofty goal).  Not unlike the peninsula itself, the preserve is flanked, but with farmland instead of water. But unlike the peninsula, the preserve (51 acres) is well hidden from view. Unlike many other preserves in the Grand Traverse Region, this preserve has no signage to lead visitors. Had I visited during the summer, leaves would have hidden any possible view from the service road. Thanks to Google Maps, I was directed to the area to park within 50 feet. The first thing I took note of? A distinct lack of human intervention (aside from the trail evident from the snow).

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Whilst no designated trails exist within the preserve, a fresh blanket of snow foretold of past paths taken by visitors. (copyright The Wilderness Journal 2018)

It’s a Bog Wetland!

Wetlands are fascinating places. Per unit area, wetlands are the most productive environments on planet Earth (as per Michigan.gov). Bogs are especially unique in that they form slowly over the years, forming layers of peat, that eventually form a sort of ‘false surface’. This surface soon becomes populated with low-lying shrubs and other vegetation. Over time, the peat completely covers any remaining open water–completely altering the lands appearance. Note in the images below there exist areas of open water…of which are used heavily by waterfowl, mammals and amphibians. A true ecological treasure to say the least.

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In this image, one can observe the abundance of low-lying vegetation encroaching upon an open swath of water. (copyright The Wilderness Journal 2018)
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One of the remaining open-water areas of the preserve. (copyright The Wilderness Journal 2018)
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A leafless stand of Paper Birch among the layers of peat. (copyright The Wilderness Journal 2018)

Fortunately, visiting the bog has not become extremely popular. Bogs are home to numerous species that cannot thrive elsewhere. And oftentimes, these species are quite sensitive to disturbances. This is precisely why the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy has deemed the preserve a ‘sanctuary’. Myriad species find sanctuary here, including a nesting pair of Bald Eagles (of which I have not yet seen). So, by not offering any trails or public facilities, the preserve is seldom visited, allowing the bog to remain a ‘sanctuary’ preserve.

I love wetlands, especially bogs. If you get a chance, go out and visit one near you! Wetlands are worth a visit any time of the year (even with the “white stuff” on the ground).

Until next time, get outside and breathe. And, do not let life bog you down. 😉

-Adam K.

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