Natural Areas Program



Western Michigan University's Natural Areas Program partners with students and faculty, local ecological organizations, area schools and volunteer groups to promote environmental stewardship, provide research and education opportunities, and create healthier natural areas on WMU properties. In recent years, the University has made the conscious decision to not only maintain safety in these areas but to begin managing for ecological health and education opportunities. The Natural Areas Program is unique in that very few universities currently dedicate resources to programs that actively manage natural areas for research, education, passive recreation and ecological health .

Kalamazoo pre-settlement vegetation map

Asylum Lake Preserve

Asylum Lake Preserve is a 213-acre nature preserve that is owned and managed by Western Michigan University. The lake and adjoining property lie in the West Fork of the Portage Creek Watershed. This property serves as a research area for professors and students of anthropology, biology, geography, hydrogeology and environmental studies at WMU as well as other educational institutions.

In September 2008, management plans were developed for each of the nine habitat types in the preserve. A natural features inventory of the property was completed recently outlining vegetation types, avian inventories and management strategies.

Kleinstuck Preserve

Kleinstuck Preserve is a 46-acre nature preserve owned and managed by Western Michigan University. This property is open to the public for passive recreation and is used by WMU and other educational institutions for research and education purposes.

The Stewards of Kleinstuck is a dedicated group of local citizen volunteers that actively assist the WMU Natural Areas Program in protecting and improving the environmental health of the preserve. They meet regularly for workdays and events in the preserve using the Kleinstuck management plan as a guide for ecological restoration. 

Parkview Campus

WMU's Parkview Campus, which houses the Engineering and Applied Sciences Building and the central parkway of the Business Technology and Research Park, is planted with large expanses of a historic southwest Michigan native ecosystem called prairie.

Campus woodlots

There are approximately 120 acres of woodlots on main campus. These areas are comprised of forest vegetation and are not landscaped. With the help of volunteers, we have begun removing the invasive vegetative understory in these areas in order to improve the health of the habitats and create a safer environment for the University community.