Conservation Services

About Us

Conservation Services provides land management services to private and public landowners throughout West Michigan. We are dedicated to connecting people to nature by managing and restoring natural resources. Our services range from invasive species management, native plant restorations, to trail installation and much more.

Whether your goal is to control invasive species, restore a prairie, or to attract wildlife with native plants, we can make your vision become a reality!

Our Services

Invasive species are organisms that are not native to a specific ecosystem that cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health. They tend to spread aggressively, outcompete native wildlife, and disrupt food web interactions. Our team members have successfully managed some of the most destructive plant species in the state of Michigan for over a decade including:

  • Phragmites
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Asian Bittersweet
  • Autumn Olive
  • Purple Loosestrife
  • Eurasian Water Milfoil

We use an integrated approach to combat invasive plant infestations. Herbicide applications are often necessary when dealing with well established invasive populations. However, we also use a combination of prescribed burns, hand pulling, mechanical removal, and biological control methods where applicable.

Learn more: Invasive Species in the State of Michigan

Prescribed Burn at ODC Nature Preserve

Prescribed fire (also called controlled burning) will suppress non-native and invasive species which are often fire intolerant and help create a more biologically diverse ecosystem. It recycles nutrients, minerals, and naturally occurring metals back to the soil which benefits fire-adapted native species. Removing dead plant material also allows the soil to be warmed which stimulates new plant growth.

Using licensed professionals, we manage the ODC Nature Preserve grassland and wetland ecosystems with controlled burns. We also work with the City of Holland to manage the Macatawa Marsh and the Pottowatomi Club in Saugatuck to manage the Pottawatomi Marsh.

Learn more:

Prescribed Fire in Michigan from the Michigan Prescribed Fire Council

Prescribed Fire Explained from the Michigan DNR

Galerucella Beetles in Action on Purple Loosestrife

Since 2001, Conservation Services has been involved in the rearing and distribution of Galerucella or “purple loosestrife” beetles within our watershed. These beetles act as natural predators to the invasive purple loosestrife by consuming the plant at all stages of development. As a result, they have proven to be a highly effective biological control tool to suppress the plants and keep populations in check.

We expanded our efforts in the late 2000′s to include the Pottawatomi Marsh within the Kalamazoo River system near Saugatuck and have seen a dramatic reduction in loosestrife populations. Contact us today if you are interested in exploring this option to manage the spread of purple loosestrife on your property. Please note that orders must be placed in early summer of the year of intended use due to the beetle rearing process.

Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol from the Minnesota DNR

Native Restoration of an Old Agricultural Field

Plants are considered native if they exist naturally in a particular area without human interaction. Native plants are highly adapted and have co-evolved with wildlife for thousands of years. As a result, they provide the foundation of any healthy ecosystem.

In contrast to traditional landscaping, native landscapes offer landowners a variety of benefits that save both time and money. Native plants are low maintenance since they require no mowing, pesticides, fertilizer, or watering after they are established. Additionally, native plants improve biodiversity, water and soil quality, reduce erosion, and offer a variety of beautiful wildflowers to attract wildlife.

If you are interested in pursuing a native plant restoration, please contact us today to schedule a site assessment. We propagate over 50 species of native plants from seed in our greenhouse and carefully select the right balance of plants to thrive in any environment.

Learn more from the great resource below:

Why Native Plants Matter from Audubon

Lake Macatawa Channel into Lake Michigan

The goal of this community wide effort is to remediate the water quality issues of Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa Watershed. This multi-phased approach provides solutions focused on land restoration, Best Management Practices (BMPs), community education, and long term sustainability. The advantage of this phased approach is that each phase builds on its predecessor, thereby avoiding redundancy and  providing flexibility in implementation. We include solutions that address the problems of Lake Macatawa both at the source (passive wetland restoration) and further downstream.

Learn more: Project Clarity

A number of ODC Network staff are certified Hunter’s Safety Education instructors. We believe a critical part of proper management is helping to send safe and ethical sportsmen and sportswomen into the field. Several classes are offered throughout the year including full certification classes and field day segments that are intended to complete certification for people that have gone through the on-line class modules.

Michigan DNR Hunter’s Safety Education Program

Photo Gallery