GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The property that used to be Highlands Golf Club is beginning its new purpose as a natural area on Thursday.

The 121-acre property was purchased in February by the Blandford Nature Center and Land Conservancy of West Michigan and has begun its transformation to a natural state.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to bring nature right into the middle of Grand Rapids, and give people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience nature to get out here and do just that. It’s on a bus line here on Leonard, its seven or eight minutes outside of downtown Grand Rapids. It’s very accessible and that was the purpose in partnering with Blanford in getting this thing done,” said Joe Engel, the Executive Director Land Conservancy of West Michigan.

Thursday marks the first day the property is open to the public, and there will be tours at 4 and 7 p.m.

The two organizations will seek public input this summer to develop a plan for what improvements will be made in the coming years.

“While there is plenty of work yet to do, we are eager for the community to get their feet on the ground and experience the benefits of fresh air and the beginnings of a remarkable, open, natural landscape right here in northwest Grand Rapids,” Engel said in a release.

When plans are in place, the groups will work with the public to repay the loan used to purchase the land. The loan was given by The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit that helps communities establish and improve conservations.

“We want folks to get out and get their toes in the grass,” Engel said. “Hike out here, bring your dogs out on a leash, take a look in the beauty of this natural transforming place.”

The Highlands will be open for free daily from sunrise to sunset. For more information, contact the Land Conservancy of West Michigan at 616.451.9476.