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Dean Family: Glen Lake Watershed

Dean Family Protects Land in Crystal River/Glen Lake Watershed

From our 2010 Spring Newsletter

Howard Dean has been spending summers on Glen Lake since 1937, the year he was born. “The only time I didn’t make it up there for some part of the summer were the years I spent in the military,” says Howard.

Now he and his wife, Diane, have taken steps to help protect the area they love with a donated conservation easement on 14.5 acres along Northwoods Drive near Glen Arbor. The land is located across the road from their cottage on Glen Lake. It is part of a rare wooded dune and swale wetland complex that connects to the nearby Crystal River, is within Glen Lake Watershed and backs up to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. “It’s not a big piece of land, but its ecological impact in the area sure is,” says Matt Heiman, the Conservancy’s Director of Land Protection.

“I’m a big supporter of the Leelanau Conservancy and what they’re trying to do,” says Howard. “I wanted to protect that land and have it not be built on. We got some help tax wise by donating the easement, so that was the best way to go for us. I hope that more people would follow suit and think about doing conservation easements on their land.”

Howard is still working in the Chicago area, but he and his family manage to spend about six weeks a year here in the cottage that his grandfather built on Glen Lake. “I love it up there,” he says. “Nice people, nice surroundings.”

White tailed deer, ruffed grouse and woodcock are among the many creatures that frequent the land the Deans have protected. “The property also contains essential habitat for neo-tropical birds, marsh birds and raptors that breed and nest on the property,” says Heiman. In addition to backing up to the National Park on one side, Dean’s land also abuts the 17-acre Seward conservation easement and is near the 22-acre Anderson conservation easements, which have similar ecological characteristics and value. “We like to create contiguous blocks of protected lands,” adds Heiman. “It’s an added bonus for plants and wildlife when we can protect lands that are also adjacent to the park or one of our own natural areas.”