More than 100 years ago, lumberman and Michigan Regent Arthur Hill and his wife, Louise, made a gift of dirt, trees and water to the U-M in the form of a rural, 80-acre tract five miles west of the Ann Arbor campus. Named Saginaw Forest after the Hills’ hometown, it has long served as a living classroom and research resource for the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE).
The M. Jerome Rieger Saginaw Forest Enrichment Fund, created through a $250,000 gift from Bedford, New York’s Richard O. Rieger (AB ’79) to honor his father (AB ’40, MBA ’41), will bolster the impact of the Hills’ early philanthropy by helping implement a new SNRE stewardship plan for the Forest. Supported by Ann Arbor’s Debby McMullen, the study examines the Forest’s continued use for graduate education and research as well as new possibilities for K-12 environmental education programs and nature-based recreation for the public. Saginaw Forest features 55 acres of woodlands planted between 1904 and 1937, Third Sister Lake and surrounding wetlands.
Richard Rieger said his gift reflects his father’s passion for the woods. An ardent student of trees, the elder Rieger possessed an uncanny ability to identify an enormous range of species, even in Latin.
“He’d walk down the street and tell you the names of every tree,” his son said. “Even though he was told (forestry) was not a good professional pursuit, he pursued it in his leisure. It was a lifelong love.
“He had so many interests, and the University of Michigan really nurtured them. His Michigan experience really opened his eyes.”