Stockman: On the Crystal River - The Leelanau Conservancy

Stockman: On the Crystal River

More Land Along the Crystal River Protected: Conservation Easement Will Keep 6.3 Acres, 2,446 Feet of Shoreline Forever Natural

From our 2008 Fall Newsletter

David and Joyce Stockman always thought they would live out their retirement years along the Crystal River, in a house built there by David’s grandfather. Instead, complicated health issues and a need to be near family have changed their plans. The couple is moving to Rochester, New York, to be near their three children and many grandchildren.

When they made the decision to move, chief among their concerns was the protection of the wild, untouched six acres next to their home. “We wanted to make sure that the property would never be developed,” says David. The Stockman’s property features nearly a half mile of river frontage. Thousands of canoeists and kayakers paddle past their shoreline each year. Their land is immediately downstream from the 104-acre “Oxbow Property” that just three years ago was permanently protected when the Homestead Resort agreed to sell the land for inclusion in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In that deal, the Leelanau Conservancy played a key role in brokering the transaction and as a “bridge buyer” for the majority of the land.

When it became imperative that the land would need to be sold, the Stockmans instructed their Realtor, Steve Netherton, to approach the Leelanau Conservancy to determine what might be done. “We think the Conservancy has done fabulous work in this area,” says Joyce. The couple learned that they could protect the peninsula through a conservation easement; an agreement whereby landowners can either sell or donate their development rights. Lands protected by conservation easements remain in private hands—and they stay on the tax rolls.

Their Realtor thought approaching the Conservancy was a good idea too. “In this case, the choice to sell my client’s property for development or to conserve it was crystal clear,” says Netherton. “From that point we all worked together.”

“The fact that the Stockmans kept the land natural, not manicured, and even left dead trees in place, makes this an ecologically rich property,” says Matt Heiman, Director of Land Protection for the Conservancy who negotiated the project. Because of the tremendous ecological value here and the ability of grant funds, the Conservancy was able to purchase the conservation easement. Half the needed funds came from a Clean Michigan Initiative grant; the other half from the Conservancy’s Glen Arbor/Crystal River Fund.

“We’ve long said that the Crystal River is the signature landscape for the village of Glen Arbor and this is one more way to protect the uniqueness of this area,” adds Conservancy Executive Director Brian Price. “The people who really benefit from this transaction are all of us who enjoy the Crystal River and also the many travelers who pass by on M-22.”

“We’re thrilled that it went this way, and will stay as it is,” says David. Five generations of Stockmans have frolicked in the water here, watched wildlife wander past and salmon swim up the river. David notes that his father, an avid photographer, spent hours taking pictures of the lady slippers and other natural wonders found on this property. David and Joyce say they are proud to be leaving the land as David’s grandfather found it in the 1930s.

The Stockman home and surrounding lot is not part of the easement. It remains unrestricted and is being sold, along with the conserved land, to a new owner who must adhere to the terms of the conservation easement.

David’s daughter, Sheri Adam, who was in town helping her parents pack and move says that she is glad her parents will be near her and her siblings. “But the move is bittersweet for all of us,” she says. “Five generations have enjoyed this wonderful place. But we all live 10 hours away, and it’s just not practical for us to hold on to it. If we can’t be here to enjoy it, the next best thing is knowing that it will stay this way forever.”