Conservancy Seeks Help From Property Owners Who are Planning to Build

From our 2010 Spring Newsletter

“Every time I see a new driveway or house going in and we missed a chance to dig up the wildflowers there before the bulldozers arrived, it makes me crazy,” says Patty Shea, co-founder of the Leelanau Conservancy’s Wildflower Rescue Committee. “If people would just let us spend a few hours there ahead of time they would be doing the world a great favor.”

The Wildflower Rescue group was started in the fall of 1999 with the purpose of saving native plants from destruction.  It has worked since that time not only to save the plants, but to educate the public about the value of the native plants to the forest and as part of ecosystems. If you are planning to build a home within the next five years, Shea begs, “PLEASE give us an opportunity to remove precious native plants long before the bulldozers arrive.”

Wildflower Rescue Committee will visit and show you the treasures you have on site that you may not even be aware of. Volunteers are very respectful and never go on property without prior permission. They dig in two-hour shifts in spring and fall, usually in the morning. Hundreds of wildflowers can be saved with a property owner’s help and forethought. There can be hundreds of plants in one small area.

If your building plans are a few years off, contacting the committee now could yield even greater natural dividends. The committee will come and dig each year, removing new plants that appear each spring or regenerate from seed. If you are concerned about liability issues, don’t be, says Shea. Call the Leelanau Conservancy office so that they may put you at ease.

Over the last 10 years, the group has rescued thousands of plants which have found their way into wildflower gardens and natural areas all over Leelanau. In the process, they raise about $25,000 every year for the Leelanau Conservancy at their annual plant sale on the Leland Village Green.

Property owners Jennie Berkson and David Edelstein built a new home two years ago and worked with Shea and her group. “We were so glad to be part of the Wildflower Rescue effort,” says Jennie. “They were responsive and removed the plants respectfully and carefully.  In addition to many wildflowers on the property, we had an old perennial garden that had been planted by the former owners.  We were able to save some of it for our own use, but most of it we are glad to say went to the plant sale and is also planted at the DeYoung Farm. We are very happy to have been able to benefit the Conservancy and Leelanau County in such an effortless and creative way.”

To learn more or to get in touch with the Wildflower Rescue Committee, call the Leelanau Conservancy: 231-256-9665.

Two things can happen when a patch of trillium or lady slippers sits in the path of a new home site. They can get bulldozed under—or, with the help of alert property owners, they can be transplanted to new sites. Some rescued plants are moved to Conservancy property sites, when appropriate. Others are potted up and sold at the annual Spring Plant Sale at the Leland Village Green which is held every Memorial Day Weekend to help fund the Conservancy’s mission.

Attention Future Homebuilders!

If you are planning to build a home within the next five years, PLEASE give us an opportunity to remove precious native plants long before the bulldozers arrive.

Want to help our Wildflower Rescue Committee with some or all of it? All you need is a strong back and a love of the outdoors. To get involved, call Joanie Woods, 213-256-7154. If you can’t help but know of a site slated for the bulldozer or have property you plan to build on, also contact Joanie or the Leelanau Conservancy: 231=256-9665. The Wildflower Rescuers are pictured above: photo courtesy of Keith Burnham and the Leland Report (www.lelandreport.com).

The Wildflower Rescue Mission

Wildflower Rescue is an arm of the Leelanau Conservancy.  The Group was started in the fall of 1999 with the purpose of saving native plants from destruction.  We have worked since that time not only to save the plants, but to educate the public about the value of the plants to the forest and as part of ecosystems.

Wildflower Rescue saves primarily woodland, or shade plants that are found in hardwood forest. Any plants protected by Michigan Law are legally dug with permission of the property owner. We do not dig rare or endangered plants and all plants are inspected by the State Ag Dept. for disease.  We go into a site before the roads are constructed, the driveway built or building site dug and take the plants.  The property owner’s wishes are respected and plants that will not be destroyed are left on site, in tact.  We dig in the spring and fall, which are the best times for plant survival.  The group usually digs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the morning, for about an hour, but we can work around equipment and work demands as necessary.  We always go as a group and only after receiving a signed permission agreement with the property owner, which releases the owner from any liability.  We have worked with private individuals, The Road Commission, local excavators and builders, developer Jack Armstrong, The Leelanau Club at Bahle Farms, and Cedar Valley Ridge.

Many rescued plants have been donated to public gardens such as The Old Settlers Park in Glen Arbor, The Leland Children’s Center, The Old Art Building in Leland, Munson Hospice House in Traverse City, and The Leland Village Green.  The rest of the plants are potted and sold to raise money for the maintenance of the Leland Village Green.

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