Environmental Study Area

A nature sanctuary open to public

The 300+ acre Environmental Study Area (ESA), adjacent to the former home of Henry and Clara Ford, features many natural habitats. These include a mature beech-maple forest, a floodplain forest, an upland mesic forest, meadows, an 8-acre lake, and the Rouge River on its western border.  

The ESA continues to be managed as a nature sanctuary. As an oasis for biological diversity in the middle of a highly urbanized area, it remains important in the preservation of our local natural heritage.  The ESA landscape continues to change. New challenges to its stewardship, based on an assortment of human influences, include the negative impacts of an increasing abundance of invasive plants and animals. To learn more about the history of this space, and to track the changes in aerial photographs from 1937 to the present, please visit the ESA Story Map.

Visitors are invited to walk the nearly 3 miles of trails and learn about the Hidden Benefits of Trees along a marked trail on the west side of Fair Lane Lake. 

The ESA has several distinct habitat types:

Please follow these few rules when visiting the ESA

  • No biking or jogging on the trails 
  • No dogs in the Natural Areas
  • No fishing
  • No picnicking
  • Areas are open from sunrise to sunset
Views of UM-D Natural Areas