Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve

joburg-lakeThe Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve at Echo Valley Ranch will consist of almost 800 acres of property located in Johannesburg, Michigan. The property contains Kujawa and Johannesburg Lakes, along with being the former home to both the Johannesburg Manufacturing Company as well as Echo Valley Resort. The intent of the Otsego County Parks and Recreation Commission is to establish the Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve. There will eventually be environmental/nature classes given at the nature preserve, along with cross country skiing, hiking, and horseback riding along the property's many trails. In addition, tentative plans are to restore the historic sawmill, along with associated buildings, and to help educate people about this important part of Johannesburg history. The first 764 acres were transferred to Otsego County for the first phase of the Nature Preserve. This first phase, which will be limited activities such as hiking, biking, equestrian, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. The entrance is planned to be located at the corner of Waters and Gingell Roads at the northeast corner of the property. The remaining property, which will allow for increased activities, will be transferred at a later date.

Otsego County Parks and Recreation WebsiteMr. Groen's deep commitment to the property during his stewardship and the continuation thereof through the Louis M. Groen Nature preserve emanates out of Mr. Groen's love and respect for nature, animals, and the outdoors. By making these arrangements for the care, custody, and maintenance of the property, Mr. Groen is hopeful that generations of citizens of Otsego County will have the opportunity to enjoy, appreciate and respect these aspects of our community. Otsego County, through the members of its Groen Visioning Committee, has begun working on long-range planning for the future Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve. Though the property remains in private ownership, the Committee has been established to create a plan for the property in anticipation of the future conveyance of the property as a public asset.

Located at 2043 Gingell Rd., Johannesburg, MI 49751

Hours of Operation

Memorial Day to Labor Day

  • Sunday and Monday 10 am- 6 pm
  • Tuesday through Saturday 10 am - 8 pm

Remainder of the Year

  • Monday and Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday through Sunday: 10 am to 6 pm

Closed: ALL County Observed Holidays, except Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day

Closed: November 15th - November 30th

Louis M. Groen

Mr. Groen is noted as inventing the Filet-O-Fish sandwich for McDonalds in Cincinnati in 1961. He started Cincinnati's first McDonald's franchise and by the time he retired he owned 43 stores throughout Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. In addition, at age 80, Mr. Groen, along with two other individuals entered into a new business venture called Stop Stick, Ltd., which is in the business of producing and selling devices which immobilize motor vehicles by causing their tires to become deflated.

You can read more about Mr. Groen in the following online articles:

Historic Recollections Needed

If you have recollections concerning this property and the area, please email Matt Nowak or call at 989-786-5518