Leelanau Conservancy Announces Challenge Grant in Final Push for Clay Cliffs Natural Area Project

A generous family, who wishes to remain anonymous, has pledged to match all donations to the Clay Cliffs project from now until the end of the year—up to $200,000. “We’re very excited about this incredible opportunity,” says Conservancy Director Brian Price. “Maximizing this match would really help us to near the finish line.”

“We can’t wait to be able to welcome the public onto this spectacular piece of property,” continues Price. “If we can finish with the fundraising this year, we would hope to open it up to visitors some time in 2013.”

The Leelanau Conservancy and Leland Township are in the process of permanently protecting this land. This stunning 104-acre property is truly a special piece of Leelanau. It is a pristine and awe-inspiring landscape of steep slopes, hidden valleys, open meadows, and delicate wetlands. Wildlife, such as white tailed deer, eagles, and wild turkeys, and native plants, like jack in the pulpit, ostrich fern, tall meadow rue, and trillium, thrive in these diverse and quintessentially Northern Michigan habitats.

The property is bordered on the east by North Lake Leelanau and the on the west by Lake Michigan, with over 1,700 feet of frontage on each lake. The high ridges and open meadows afford breathtaking views of North Lake Leelanau. The sheer clay bluffs that tower above Lake Michigan at the forest’s edge provide magnificent views of the Manitous and South Fox Island. Fifty-eight acres of mature northern hardwood forest tower above the two lakes. Much of the forest has not been logged in over 80 years, allowing the trees the rare opportunity to approach their maximum size.

The Township will ultimately own the Natural Area and the public will be welcome to bird watch, hike, cross country ski, and enjoy the land in its natural state. The Conservancy will manage the property through a long-term agreement with the township that will allow the public to enjoy this treasure while protecting the land’s natural features.

This unprecedented project will cost almost $6.2 million to complete. Many pieces of the puzzle have already fallen together with the landowner agreeing to sell the land below market value and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund committing to a 50% grant. The Conservancy is responsible for raising a total of $1,776,500.  “A dedicated group of volunteers has been helping to raise funds for this great project,” says Price. “We still have about $600,000 to go, but with this Challenge Grant—we are excited about making this dream into a reality.”

“Everyone who visits this property is awed by it,” he adds. The Conservancy has led some private hikes on the property including during its annual picnic. “I hope people will act on the opportunity to double their money to preserve one of Leelanau’s last remaining jewels.”

CLICK HERE TO DONATE-all donations made by December 31, 2012 will be matched by an anonymous donor! (up to $200,000)

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