Louis Groen Nature Preserve

is56-1326312544-67647 The 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, snow shoeing, and cross country skiing.  The entrance is planned to be located at the corner of Waters & 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.

Louis M Groen

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Mr. 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, have 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.

April 16, 2020

In response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “stay home, stay safe” executive order being extended until April 30, the Otsego County Parks and Recreation Department has delayed opening the campground and all county parks until May 8. Campground reservation holders will receive an email once cancellations are processed, and refunds will be applied to the original payment method. No cancellation or modification fees will be charged. For questions, please call (989) 732-6521.

The May 8 opening date applies to all Otsego County Parks: Otsego Lake County Park, Irontone Springs, Wah-Wah-Soo, Pontresina (Dog) Park, and the Groen Nature Preserve.

Event notifications:

  • The County Park Fly-In Event scheduled for June 12-14 has been canceled.
  • At this time, the Fourth of July Fireworks have not been canceled and remain scheduled for Friday July 3rd.

Please continue to practice effective social distancing and other measures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and to keep you, your family, and the community safe.

  • Go out only if you’re feeling healthy
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others in a public setting, including the outdoors.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 

This information is being evaluated continuously and is subject to change.

Thank you, Otsego County Parks and Recreation and the Otsego County Board of Commissioners.

The Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve is closed until May 8.

Hours of Operation

Memorial Day to Labor Day

Sunday – Saturday 10:00am – 8:00pm

Remainder of the Year 

Monday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.

Tuesday and Wednesday: Closed

Thursday and Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Easter Sunday. Closed November 15th – November 30th

Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve Facebook Page
Groen Aerial Photo Showing Phase 1 2015 Tree Harvest w/trail map  

Louis M. Groen

Mr. Groen is noted as inventing the Filet-O-Fish sandwich for McDonalds in Cincinnati in 1961. He started Cincinatti’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 articles:

Historic Recollections Needed

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



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