Lake Leelanau Watershed Initiative Update

Centerville Township Lands Protected

From our 2006 Summer Newsletter

July 2006Recent successful projects have created excitement and interest among area landowners. Most recently, the Conservancy purchased a 60-acre easement from Travis and Chai Hung Nelson along Sharnowski Road. This latest project adds to a growing area already protected by other landowners. Together, the lands provide a large area of wildlife habitat and water quality protection in Centerville Township. Like nearly all of our conservation easements, public access is not permitted and the landowner retains all property rights which were not specifically restricted in the conservation easement.

The Nelson’s goal of managing a portion of their property for wildlife habitat was a great fit for Clean Michigan Initiative grant funds. The wetlands and adjacent forested hills interwoven by several small streams and spring seeps create a matrix of diverse habitats. Under the direction of a wildlife management plan approved by the Conservancy, it is still possible to actively manage properties under conservation easement, providing adequate steps are taken to protect sensitive habitats and prevent exotic species introduction.

The cumulative benefits derived from several adjacent conservation easements along a stream valley are far greater than the sum of each conservation easement individually. The ability of larger animals such as whitetail deer, coyote, black bear and bobcat to wander hundreds of acres of contiguous wetland, forest and stream is vital to sustaining healthy populations. As land becomes more fragmented and developed over time, corridor projects such as these are even more important in providing a sanctuary for wildlife.

More Land Protected in the Lake Leelanau Watershed!
Second Grant Will Fund Additional Projects

September 2006: In August the Conservancy purchased a conservation easement that will permanently protect another 55 acres containing sensitive wetlands in Centerville Township. The 55-acre parcel belongs to Benjamin Bowmaster, and is part of a growing swath of properties that serve as an important buffer for Lake Leelanau.

If this is the first time you are reading about our “Lake Leelanau Watershed Initiative (LLWI),” the aim is to protect the lake’s surrounding land and encourage good stewardship. We wrote a grant and in 2003 were awarded $723,800 from the Michigan DEQ Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI). The grant required matching funds, and many residents around the lake stepped up to help. We had already permanently protected 13 properties totaling 688 acres in the watershed through conservation easement before receiving the grant. But the CMI funds coupled with donations and landowners discounting their properties, enabled us to purchase 7 more conservation easements. Now, with Bowmaster’s included, these 7 projects total an additional 321 acres.

We’re grateful to Ben and his neighboring landowners who, together, have forever protected wildlife habitat, wetlands and streams critical to the health of the lake the quality of life it provides for so many.

There is still $84,000 left from the 2003 CMI grant that must be used by the end of November. It’s earmarked for a 40-acre easement purchase now in the works.

The news gets better.

Our land protection specialist, Matt Heiman, who wrote the 2003 CMI grant, just landed a second one for $447,500 to continue our LLWI work. We’ll again purchase conservation easements on critical wetlands that are identified in the Lake Leelanau Watershed Management Plan. We wrote this plan in partnership with the Lake Leelanau Lake Association.

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