The Kensington Conservancy announces new nature preserve


The Kensington Conservancy is excited to announce the acquisition of a new nature preserve, the Gravel Point Preserve. It is located just south of Hilton Beach along Highway 548 in the Gravel Point area.

The Gravel Point Preserve consists of four adjacent lots for a total of 278 acres. It features mixed forests and wetlands, which is great habitat for thousands of wildlife and plant species. This is The Kensington Conservancy’s first nature preserve on St. Joseph Island and our largest protection project to-date.

A series of hiking trails will be constructed throughout the preserve that will be open to the public. In order to create these trails, as well as cover our long-term stewardship commitments and closing costs, we are launching the Gravel Point Fundraiser. Every donation will help! Please visit for more information about how you can support this project.

The creation of the Gravel Point Preserve was made possible by Betsy and Bill Kingery, who donated one of the lots that makes up the preserve and the funds to purchase the other three.

“My grandfather, Nathan Ransohoff, brought his family to Hilton Beach in 1923, and since then at least one Ransohoff has visited the island every year, except perhaps during WW2,” stated Betsy. “In 1974, my husband Bill and I honeymooned on St. Joseph Island, and Bill grew to love the island as much as I did. In 2003 we bought property on Gravel Point and built our own cabin for our growing family.”

“There is so much that is special about St. Joseph Island: the sound of the water against the rocks, the creaking of the trees, the pine-scented breeze, and the flowers in late spring. So we began to wonder what we could do to give back to a place that has given so much to us over five generations. Five or so years ago we began looking at the interior lots along Highway 548 and Old Orchard Road. The opportunity to protect 278 acres of forest, pond, and stream in perpetuity seemed to be the perfect fit, and having The Kensington Conservancy there to provide guidance, patience and enthusiasm has been key.”

We also wish to recognize and thank Jason Schneider (who generously donated one-third of the value of his property), Elliot Greenebaum, and Kit and Jill Pappenheimer for being an integral part of this project by selling their properties.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be taking place at the Gravel Point Preserve on June 25, 2022 at 11:00am. Snacks and refreshments will be available and everyone is welcome to attend.

The Kensington Conservancy is a land trust and a registered charity that aims to protect ecologically sensitive land in the St. Joseph Channel area by creating nature preserves and holding conservation easements. To date, we have protected almost 1,200 acres of wetlands and significant wildlife habitat.