Elliott-Patchett Nature Preserve
Location: Shiawassee County
Year Acquired: 2011
Size: 34 acres
The Elliott-Patchett Nature Preserve is located on 34 acres of land located in Vernon Township, Shiawassee County, Michigan. It was generously donated in 2011 by Larry D. Elliott and his wife, Peggy. “I want to keep the land preserved and a welcoming place,” he said. “I hope that school groups will take kids out and show them what Michigan woods look like. In the spring it has tons of wildflowers and all kinds of nice things.” The Preserve provides excellent access to the Shiawassee River for fishing, which local fishermen have done for generations.
As a young boy, the family's 35 acres that runs along the Shiawassee River in Vernon Township held limitless possibilities for Larry D. Elliott.
“I would go out there with my dad,” he fondly remembers. “He would be talking to the farmers working the land so whenever I could, I would take off, go down into the woods and run around there. It was my primeval forest. The gentleman renting the land had a couple of German Shepherds and there was a boy on the farm. The four of us would go wandering around the woods.”
Fishermen still use the land to hike down to the river for the day's catch and deer roam freely.
With the donation of that property to the Saginaw Basic Land Conservancy, Larry, his wife Peggy and their children are hoping that the new Elliott-Patchett Nature Preserve will offer others the enjoyment and wonder that he found in roaming the area as a child.
“I want to keep the land preserved and a welcoming place,” he said. “I hope that school groups will take kids out and show them what Michigan woods look like. In the spring it has tons of wildflowers and all kinds of nice things.”
The conservancy is hoping the public will take a look at what the land has to offer. “Because it will be open to the public, we're hoping people will take advantage of it,” said Valerie Roof, former executive director of the conservancy. “If school groups want to use it, we will be supportive of that.
The land, which slopes down to the river, is made up of three eco-systems.
The main part of land is an old wood lot, which was used by the family whenever wood was needed at their farm. The next piece, which had been cleared at one time for farming, now supports all types of pine trees, planted by Elliott's father, L. Arthur Elliott. The third piece, used mainly as access road for both humans and cattle, was also the family's source for gravel.
Although untouched and unused by the family for many years, selling the property to just anyone was out of the question. The land is part of the family history. Preserving it in its pristine condition became the prime concern.
Sharing the family dream with Ken Kirkman, who Elliott calls the eyes and ears of the property, Kirkman suggested Elliott contact the conservancy.
“My first thought was why in heaven's name would someone in Bay City have an interest in a piece of land sitting in Vernon,” said Elliott. “I wrote them a letter and got a letter back saying they wanted to look at it.”
“It's an extremely generous donation,” said Roof. “Because of it, the Elliotts will be leaving a legacy for future generations.”
That's exactly what the family had in mind.
“I hope 200 years from now, the Shiawassee will still be flowing along and there are still trees there,” said Elliott.
Recreational opportunities include hiking, wildlife observation, and fishing.
How to get to Elliot-Patchett Nature Preserve:
To visit the Preserve, take the exit for M-71 to Vernon
off I-69. Turn right on Vernon Road off M-71 and look for the Preserve sign on the left after passing Goodall Road. Park off the road near the sign. You can access the Preserve and the river by walking along the tree line to the woods.