Tip of Peninsula Conservation Expands with $2 Million Trust Fund Grant!

From our 2006 Annual Report

For everyone who loves the Leelanau State Park and the raw beauty of its pristine, boulder-strewn shoreline, we have some great news. On December 6, 2006 the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund approved a grant of $2,043,000 to purchase a conservation easement on the last remaining large parcel adjacent to the Park. We will buy the land from the current owner, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will purchase a conservation easement on it from us. The state will manage the land as part of the Park. This 51 acres and 1,400 feet of spectacular shoreline are immediately adjacent to the campground on the Grand Traverse Bay side of Lighthouse Point. The new acreage is located directly east of our Lighthouse West property on Lake Michigan.

Here’s how this stunning achievement came about. As usual the story starts with a landowner who cares about preserving their land for future generations. In this case, owners Kathryn Smith and her sister Elizabeth Zuercher called last October to talk about the future of their property, which has been in the family for decades. We met at the Smiths’ modest cottage on Grand Traverse Bay, and heard about the family’s desire to sell the property. They wondered: if the Conservancy could acquire Lighthouse West, could we also buy their similar but larger property with more than double the frontage on Lake Michigan?

From that initial conversation a plan was formed. We optioned the property, worked out a plan with the State of Michigan and we applied for funding through the Trust Fund. In early December we got the great news that our request had been approved! The plan as set out by the Smith/Zuercher Family and the Conservancy will come to fruition in the summer or early fall of 2007. With this transaction, we have now protected 625 acres in the Cathead Bay to Lighthouse Point area, this land. Between these two projects, we’ve secured $3 million in state funds, and raised $900,000 in local matching funds from private donors who care deeply about the tip of the peninsula.

“The public will benefit tremendously by having this unique feature of our beautiful peninsula forever preserved,” says Conservancy Director Brian Price. “The Leelanau State Park expansion will draw visitors to Northport and enhance efforts to boost the local economy. We’ve provided an invaluable service to the Leelanau Peninsula community by working creatively with willing landowners to protect this special area of the Leelanau Peninsula.

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