Kehl Lake Natural Area Expands by 52 Acres

From our 2011 Spring Newsletter

March 2011–When Marcia Boynton and Karl Wizinsky’s children were young, the Kehl Lake Natural Area was a favorite hiking destination. Marcia says that family treks through the natural area invariably led her children to compare Kehl Lake’s surroundings “to a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth.”

“The ferns, the cedars, the cool, moist smell, the rotting logs with moss all over them – there was so much for the kids to see! And, the trail was just about the right length for them,” she adds.

Their children are now grown, but everyone in the family still spends as much time in the summer as possible in Northport. Marcia and Karl, who are still working and living in Novi, own some rental properties in the area as well as a beautiful bluff lot north of Peterson Park. They plan to one day build a home there.

The couple purchased the 52 acres off Kilcherman Road in 2000, “primarily because there are so few acreage parcels of this size north of the village,” adds Karl. They thought they might one day put a horse barn on the land.

Last year, the couple re-evaluated their plans. They contemplated selling a conservation easement. But in the end, after considering options presented by Land Protection Specialist Yarrow Wolfe, they decided to sell the land outright to the Conservancy. “We admired the impact that Marty Scott and other landowners had on that whole area near the airport when they protected their lands,” says Karl. “Although our original plan was to keep this parcel indefinitely, to see it expand the Kehl Lake Natural Area pleases us very much. Once we made our decision based on our options, we were able to close within 30 days. The process was rather straightforward.”

The Conservancy took ownership at year end and in February, on a brilliant sunny day, staff toured the property. Crunchy snow made it easy to cross the big open field visible from Kilcherman Road.

As we ducked into the woods and hiked past fallen trees like this giant overturned pine (pictured), Director Brian Price and Jenee Rowe’s excitement built about future trail possibilities. They pointed out natural wonders along the way. Among them: the linear pecking of a sap sucker on a decaying log and an ice crystal-edged blow hole on top of a snowy mound no doubt created by the breath of some hibernating creature. Staff talked about how much fun Conservancy docents would have leading hikers through this new addition.
About 31 acres of wetland are present on the new addition. Kehl Lake Natural Area now takes in a total of 232 acres. “It is part of a larger wildlife corridor we have been working to protect since we opened our doors in 1988,” says Price. (See map.)

All told, the Leelanau Conservancy has protected over 700 acres north of the village of Northport in the Cathead Bay to Lighthouse Point area. Price adds, “Thanks to a contingent of neighbors near the tip of the peninsula, along with our own property and the Leelanau State Park, hundreds of creatures can live, move and reproduce along a corridor that stretches from Cathead Point to Northport Bay.”

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