Restoration Work Begins at DeYoung Natural Area

From our 2007 Fall Newsletter

Usually, folks at Leelanau Conservancy aren’t fond of seeing bulldozers in beautiful places. But in the case of the DeYoung Natural Area on Cedar Lake, the dozers will be a welcome sight this week.

The activity is part of an ongoing effort to bring back a healthy, native landscape at DeYoung. “The restoration work that we are beginning at DeYoung now prepares the ground for so many terrific opportunities,” said Conservancy Stewardship Director, Jenee Rowe. Bulldozers will remove the invasive autumn olive tree, which chokes out native species, and has taken over much of the upland at DeYoung. The Conservancy’s goal is to remove this aggressive shrub, which often reaches heights of 20 feet. Then, the plan is to reforest the upland to a native hardwood forest peppered with native white pines. A grant from the Department of Natural Resources Forest Land Enhancement Program is helping to pay for the project. In the process, a diseased cherry orchard on the upland that has not been tended for years will also be removed. The diseased trees are a threat to other nearby orchards.

In preparation, last week a dozen or so volunteers planted 1,000 white pine seedlings into a temporary nursery near the stream. In two to three years, many of these trees will be replanted into the old cherry orchard. Also on tap this week, the creation of a new gravel parking area near the big hay barn on Cherry Bend Road. The lot will accommodate the many people who are attending hikes and other events on the property. “It will be great to have an area where people can park and access our beautiful new Cedar Lake Trail in all seasons,” said Rowe, who has overseen all of the work and improvements that have occurred on the property to date.

In addition to creating the quarter-mile Cedar Lake Trail, the Conservancy has also made improvements to some of the historic structures since acquiring the 145-acre parcel in June, 2006. It has replaced the roof on the old farmhouse, which was in danger of being destroyed because of water damage. The porch was also rebuilt and volunteers have cleaned out the old barns and helped to put up new doors. A second, upland trail is in the works, as is a new fishing pier on Cedar Lake (with 4 ADA-accessible fishing stations). Also coming soon; bike racks and a drinking fountain along the TART trail. “We couldn’t have done all this work without the generosity of the Oleson Foundation and the Dole Family Foundation, and our many hardworking volunteers,” added Rowe.

Fundraising for the $2 million project continues. To date, the Conservancy has raised $667,244 in gifts and pledges toward its $1 million private fundraising goal. A $50,000 Rotary Charities challenge grant awarded late last year has nearly been met, with $12,091 remaining yet to raise. “Today is a great time to help us, because Rotary Charities will match every dollar until we complete the challenge,” says Anne Shoup, the Conservancy’sDirector of Charitable Giving. In April the Conservancy, in partnership with Elmwood Township, applied to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for just over $1 million to help complete the preservation of this magnificent public resource. The applications will be scored by the State over the summer and final announcements will be made in December

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