Madeline Bertrand County Park grows by 32 Acres

NILES, Mich - Berrien County has completed the purchase of land in Niles Township adjacent to Madeline Bertrand County Park, expanding the park by 32 additional acres, according to the Berrien County Parks and Recreation Commission.

In summer 2021, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners approved the acceptance of a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant toward the purchase of this property.

The final agreed sale price was $425,000, with $300,000 coming from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant, and the remaining funds coming from Berrien County Parks Department budget.

The Helmen/Simpson family donated $275,000 in land value to make this purchase possible.

The Helmen/Simpson family acquired the property in 1937, originally naming it Possum Poke.

“This property has been in our family for over 85 years. It was there that my grandfather instilled in us all a deep appreciation for nature and the beauty of the outdoors”, says David Helmen, one of the previous owners.

County Park Staff will take some time to prepare the property and make plans for recreational opportunities before it's open to the public.

The Helmen/Simpson family wanted to do something special with Possum Poke that would bring it back to its glory days and provide a place where the family and the public could enjoy its natural beauty forever.

“By working with Berrien County Parks, we believe we achieved our goal and that our grandparents would forever give their wholehearted blessing.”, says Mr. Helmen.

“The Parks Commission thanks the family for their large in-kind donation allowing the County to afford the property. They do appreciate the value of nature and the out-of-doors. The acreage and river frontage will give our citizens more recreational activities down the road. The possibility of expanding the number of disc golf holes would be a great asset to one of the region’s most popular courses.” said Richard Schinkel, Berrien County Park Commission Chairman.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund receives its funding for grants from royalties from the lease and sale of state-owned mineral rights.

No tax dollars are used for the grant awards. Grantees are required to provide local matching funds.

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