The Wetland Keeper

Recently, Nature Change had the opportunity to meet Jenn Wright, the new Executive Director of the Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire, Michigan. Having spent 17 years at the Kalamazoo Nature Center where she served as the Chief Operating Officer, Wright is enthusiastic about Grass River and the educational opportunities that the 1,500-acre preserve offers everyone in Northern Michigan. Wright says that Grass River is a hidden gem, providing everyone the chance to see and experience some of the greatest plant and animal diversity anywhere in Michigan

Grass River Natural Area

We asked Wright to reflect on the changes she’s witnessed in Michigan’s natural resources over the course of her 20-year career. Emphasizing the encroachment of invasive species, she says there’s a big battle raging across the state to contain and limit the damage. Wright is thankful that the invasive species population at Grass River is quite low due to its largely untouched and biologically diverse habitat. However, managers and volunteers remain vigilant, and through observation and monitoring, they hope to blunt any future threats

When speaking of climate change, Wright says that an increasing number of extreme weather events is something she’s witnessed and is concerned about. While she is confident in the water holding and filtering capacity of Grass River’s wetlands, there is still concern that the growing severity and frequency of storms with their related run-off could present challenges in the future. Just another reason why, Wright says, preserving and protecting Grass River for future generations is so profoundly important.

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