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Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

'It was just you and the birds': Retired Ann Arbor doctor's land donation creates nature preserve

By Amy Biolchini


One of two kettle ponds in the new Reichert Nature Preserve in Dexter Township.

Courtesy of the Legacy Land Conservancy

An Ann Arbor family’s 92-acre natural haven in northern Washtenaw County has been donated by its patriarch, Dr. Rudolph Reichert, as a nature preserve for public use.

The new Reichert Nature Preserve, established through the Legacy Land Conservancy of Ann Arbor, is comprised of a property in Dexter Township that encompasses two small ponds, wetlands and a portion of the Portage Creek.

It was a weekend escape for the Reichert family, instead of heading “up north” as so many others do.

The property contains a lot of habitat you don’t normally see in Southeast Michigan, said Susan Lackey, executive director of the Legacy Land Conservancy.

Lackey said it was “incredibly visionary and incredibly generous” for the family to donate the economically and environmentally valuable property to the land conservancy.

Dr. Reichert donated the property in 2006 in an easement to the conservancy. Rather than wait until his death for the property to become a nature conservancy under full ownership by the conservancy, Dr. Reichert decided in 2012 it was time to give the land away.

If Dr. Reichert had not approached the Legacy Land Conservancy with his wish to donate his property, Lackey said the conservancy likely would have gone to him because of the property’s strategic location on the Portage Creek. The creek is one of the cleanest tributaries to the Huron River.

As an added layer of security, Reichert insisted that the Livingston Land Conservancy have an additional easement on the property.

The nature preserve is open to the public by permission only, which must be obtained by contacting the Legacy Land Conservancy at (734) 302-5263 or

“Rather than being open like a public park, we need to know who is going to be out there,” Lackey said.

Portions of the property are environmentally sensitive, Lackey said, noting there are erosion concerns on some steep slopes and nicely-maintained wetlands with minimal invasive species.

The property is accessed by a shared driveway off of Dexter-Pinckney Road just east of the intersection of Tiplady Road.

Dr. Reichert, 91, was a practicing cardiologist at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor until he was about 80 years old.


Sue Reichert dives into a pond on the Reichert property in Dexter Township in this family photo. The family dubbed the place "The Farm."

Courtesy of the Legacy Land Conservancy

Together with his late wife, Sue Reichert, the couple had four children in Ann Arbor: Rudy Jr., William, Kathy and Jim.

William Reichert, 59, is a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke Unversity. He lives in rural Hillsborough, North Carolina.

He was attending Tappan Junior High School in Ann Arbor in the mid 1960s when his father purchased the property in Dexter Township.

“We spent a lot of time there as kids,” William Reichert said.

From fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, ice skating and pond hockey, the family traversed every inch of the property and has been “subject to every kind of poisonous plant you can think of,” William Reichert said.

A small cabin and horse barn on the property supported their endeavors.

“My mom had a love-hate relationship with this place,” William Reichert said, explaining how the family’s outdoorsy adventures always left them ravenously hungry in the evenings — and his mother would be charged with feeding the “mongrel horde.”

After their children grew up, Dr. Reichert and his wife began growing vegetables.

“They really bonded over this place,” William Reichert said. “The farm was definitely a big piece of their retirement.”

Dr. Reichert's oldest son, Rudy Jr., still lives in a home adjacent to the property, as do the family's longtime friends and property caretakers, Nick and Donna Rayer.

When he was younger, William Reichert said found himself spending most of his summers jumping in and out of the small ponds on what the family called “The Farm.”

As he grew older and more independent, he said he would take a kayak from the Dexter Township property all the way to Ann Arbor.

“Once you get past Dexter, there’s not much of a current,” William Reichert said. “It was just you and the birds.”

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Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

WOW!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Rork Kuick

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

I'm used to seeing such places when there is a tour, or more importantly, when there's a call for volunteers. I check for events at I'll be working at a magnificent fen today, in very good company.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

just want to thank the Reichert and Morris families..They purchased my grandfathers farm near Gregory in the 70's, and have since also given the land to a conservancy...


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

What an amazing gift. The public has a right to travel down Portage Creek and I would highly recommend doing so. It is a lovely little river.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 7:19 a.m.

I'll join the chorus: The Reichert family - a class act.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

Beautiful gift and story! Thank you Dr. Reichert & family.

Julie Baker

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

Lovely story, Amy. This place sounds like a true treasure. I spent a lot of time exploring the woods surrounding my family's hunting camp (up north) when I was younger: fishing, hiking, etc. It's really great to get to know the land that way.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:28 p.m.

god bless dr reichert hes an angel on earth.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

Looks like a great place to duck hunt.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

no lead shot,only shoot invasive asian ducks.

Steve Hendel

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

Yes, it is indeed generous, but: it would be useful to know if, as part of the granting of the original easement or the subsequent outright gift of the land , any money changed hands-as it often does when conservation easements are granted. Amy, what about that?


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

This isn't the first time Dr. Reichert and his wife have made a donation like this. In 1998 they and Dr. Joe and Mrs. Julia Morris donated 242 acres in Unadilla Township (near Gregory) to the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy. The Conservancy protects and manages the land as a nature preserve, open to the public during the day (no overnight stays).

Michigan Man

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

Little wonder the Reichert Health Building on the campus of St. Joe's is named after Dr. Reichert!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

I gues that I can understand, at this point anyway, that restricting access to the property is not unreasonable...can see where non-caring partiers could render environmental damage, e.g. Dr. Reichert was so well known as a caring person...treated the whole person. As a management consultant, I remember him and his nice staff -- believe Bev. J. was his office manager -- decades ago when he was in private practice at the old St. Joe's Hospital on N. Ingalls in Ann Arbor. What a wonderful gift for everyone for perpetuity!

Ann English

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Thanks for providing the map; I really wanted to see where the property is; I would have guessed that Tiplady Road is in Livingston County. But if the pin is in the right place, I'm convinced it's in Washtenaw County; it's not as far north as Strawberry Lake Road, which I know is in Washtenaw County.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

The pin is in the right place. I checked the location of the property on a 2012 Washtenaw County road map and it's within the Washtenaw County line.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

The conservancy phone number is in the article, and I am pretty sure that unless you want to drive a vehical onto the property, they will give you permission to visit.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Add my name to all the "shallow" approval-seekers out there: Thanks to the Reichert family for preserving this piece of land. Having to make a phone call before heading out with binoculars for a nice hike in the spring is a very small price to pay for keeping it pristine.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

What a great gift to all the species who live there. This land will be taken care of so that they can better survive. It is also a great gift to the public. I support the move to make it available by appointment only, since this will help the plants and animals who live there. I hope they can handle the invasive species problems.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

*Like* ...... now, if we could get the Bird Center of Washtenaw their own land.....

Jack Gladney

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

It is nice to see the well-to-do surrendering their excess property to the collective voluntarily. Hopefully other One-Percenters will follow the lead of this family and deed to the public trust their vacation/recreation properties as well. This would be a great start in ending housing inequality in this country.

Michigan Man

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

JG - Hating on the rich will get you nowhere fast - I grew up in a house across the street from Dr. Reichert - Rudy was never at home - always working - all hours of the day and night. The poise and polish of Dr. Reichert might benefit a few of the authors on this link.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

What a wonderful gift this is. I there a phone number for the Coservatory?

Jack Gladney

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

@ MyOpinion Thanks for the info. Some of us on don't have computers or internet access. I hope to get that fancy Google stuff some day as well.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4 p.m.

You might try reading the article instead of just jumping to the comments: The nature preserve is open to the public by permission only, which must be obtained by contacting the Legacy Land Conservancy at (734) 302-5263 or

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

This place sounds like a treasure waiting to be explored. I'm grateful to the Reichert family for giving me the history of the place -- it'll mean that much more to visitors in the future. I'm planning to give the conservancy a call this spring and take a hike on "The Farm."


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Man.....why do so many people always " look a gift horse in the mouth " Is there ANYTHING that some people won't whine about ? Geeze oh Pete...

Seasoned Cit

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

When will a story be written about this property being taken off the tax roles? Lucky the Doctor didn't give the property to the U of M.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

Actually it is in Pinckney not Dexter- And -Ann Arbor is busy buying up property outside of its borders also. Instead of complaining about U of M buying city properties, ask why the city is buying property outside of the city and not inside the city

Jay Thomas

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

Hey, this is Dexter and there just aren't that many properties there coming off the tax roles. In A2 it is **CONSTANT**.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

This is a great & generous gift. But I'm with Billy on this. To quote: "....92-acre natural haven .... has been donated .... as a nature preserve for public use." When will it be open to the public? I'd love to see this beautiful place but I'm fairly certain my request will be rebuffed by the Legacy Land people.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 4:53 a.m.

@ RunsWithScissors. You have the Correct Name dude. Yer type of guys love to trash pristine wildlands, such as this! Yep! Git yer gas buggies revved-up and go at it. Not! In case ya dint kin: Tread Lightly (on foot), Leave Nothing Behind. This Nature Preserve has not been Freely Donated for the "enjoyment" of Gas Buggie Yahooes!!!

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

not if you promise to run to invasive plants +snip them.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

It's open to the public now. Dr. Reichert transferred the ownership of the property fully to the Legacy Land Conservancy in December. The conservancy just asks that you inform them of your activity on the property in order to preserve the habitat and conditions that the Reicherts made sure to protect. They want to make sure the land is used for passive activity, like hiking and birdwatching. William Reichert told me there are several trails on the property now.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

I don't see why it would be rebuffed. A phone call before you go is a simple thing in my opinion.

Top Cat

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

We thank you and no doubt the birds thank you!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

I guess developers lose out.. Nah nah nah


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

Glad to see that they cannot disturb another of natures bounty.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

"The nature preserve is open to the public by permission only, which must be obtained by contacting the Legacy Land Conservancy at (734) 302-5263 or" Yeah need to fix this. The land isn't really open to the public if you have to call and ask if it's ok to go out.... I realize this is early in it's inception...but you need to fix this. If you want it to be open to the need to build a public access for it. As it is right now...this is effectively someone's private property that you have to call and ask for permission to be there...


Tue, Mar 5, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

Always has to be someone to complain about a gift.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

Issues with the Legacy Land Conservancy's policy should be addressed to them directly.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

OK Amy, so post the rules and let folks come and go as they please without first "getting permission." I totally understand the no ORVs rule and wouldn't expect to see them there any more than on a public beach.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Oh I see...I'm a bad guy cause I didn't "thank someone over the internet" bad.... I rarely do such because it makes you look like a shallow person looking for approval from their peers...look at me I'm such a good person because I thank people...which has been perfectly demonstrated in Kay's comment that I am less than they because I DIDN'T thank someone...

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

Kay Nein is right -- it's not a state park. It's a nature preserve owned fully now by the Legacy Land Conservancy. Their hope is that the land is used passively -- hiking, birdwatching, etc -- in order to preserve what the Reicherts worked to protect for a number of years. The wetlands on the property have few invasive species in them, and signs of beaver activity have been sighted.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Of course no person posting here owns an Off Road Vehicle (ORV), so it is easy to understand why Billy doesn't want to ask permission. If a squad of ORVs hit the dirt they could trash this property in two weeks time.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Billy has a valid point. You don't need permission to enter a state park, so why is it required here?


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Billy....perhaps they just don't want a bunch of stupid drunks trashing it.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Wonderful news. This has always been a beautiful and intriguing piece of land. I'm glad they are requesting visitors to notify them of visits to the property. I heard they once had a small golf course there as well. We lived across from it on Tiplady in the 80's.

tom swift jr.

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 11:09 p.m.

One hole golf course... the green is gone...


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

What a wonderful gift. Nice to know some people want to give more to the community than a building with their name on it.

Peter Baker

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

Why the dig? Giving in any capacity should be welcomed and appreciated.

Linda Peck

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

What a beautiful gift! Thank you, Dr Reichert!