A $557,000 grant from the Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) will help the Conservancy to purchase conservation easements–and therefore forever protect–lands that are critical to the health of the lake. Think wetlands, streams and natural shoreline. This is the third CMI grant we have received over the years and, as in past grant cycles, we must raise matching funds to claim the grant. This time around, we must raise $300,000. “This latest round of CMI funding will allow us to continue working with interested landowners to permanently protect at least three different private properties containing a total of 201 acres of land, 600 feet of natural shoreline along North Lake Leelanau and 3,100 feet of designated trout streams flowing into South Lake Leelanau,” says Matt Heiman, Director of Land Programs. Why Leelanau photo by Betsy Schneider
Press release below with more facts:
Leelanau Conservancy Receives $557,500 Grant to Protect Lake Leelanau Watershed
For everyone who loves Lake Leelanau and values its pristine water, good news is at hand. The Leelanau Conservancy has received a grant from the state of Michigan to protect critical wetlands, stream corridors and shoreline that play an enormous role in the lake’s health.
The Leelanau Conservancy announced that $557,500 from the Clean Michigan Initiative-Clean Water Fund has been approved for the protection of critical wetlands in the Lake Leelanau watershed. In order to utilize these funds, the Conservancy needs to raise an additional $300,000 in matching funds within the two-year project timeline. The goal of the grant project is to work with interested landowners to purchase permanent conservation easements over wetlands and their adjacent forested uplands in the Lake Leelanau watershed.
This is the third grant the Conservancy has received under the CMI program for protection of the Lake Leelanau watershed. The first CMI grant, received in 2003 for $723,800, established 8 permanent conservation easements that protect 362 acres and nearly 5 miles of frontage along groundwater-fed tributary streams flowing into Lake Leelanau. Our second CMI funded project utilized $447,500 of CMI funds to establish 6 permanent conservation easements over 316 acres containing 8,050 feet of frontage along first and second order streams flowing into Lake Leelanau. This latest round of CMI funding will allow us continue working with interested landowners to permanently protect at least three different private properties containing a total of 201 acres of land, 600 feet of natural shoreline along North Lake Leelanau and 3,100 feet of designated trout streams flowing into South Lake Leelanau.
Matt Heiman, Director of Land Programs with the Conservancy, noted that the program purchases perpetual conservation easements on land which will have long-term beneficial impact on water quality and aquatic habitat in the Lake Leelanau watershed. The Watershed Protection Plan prioritizes the permanent protection of lands that contain conservation values integral to maintaining high water quality. All of the interested landowners prioritized for this funding round have intact natural shoreline along Lake Leelanau itself or one of its groundwater fed tributary streams. According to Heiman “the tremendous success of this program can be credited in part to a good science-based plan, but the real credit goes to caring landowners who wish to see their ecologically important land preserved for future generations.”
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement in which a landowner limits specific uses or development of his or her property while retaining private ownership of their land. The limitations are designed to preserve the wetland and other ecological values of the property being protected. The CMI program has brought many new projects to the Conservancy by funding the purchase of conservation easements, typically at 50% of their full market value, from conservation minded landowners.
When a landowner sells a conservation easement to the Conservancy, the organization takes on the responsibility of monitoring the property and ensuring the terms of the easement are upheld by future landowners. The public is not granted any right of access to properties under a conservation easement, even when State grant monies are used to purchase them. Conservation Easements are customized for each property’s specific ecological values along with each landowner’s individual goals for their land. It is common for people to reserve a limited amount of development potential on their land, while protecting the most ecologically sensitive wetlands and adjacent forestland.
In order to maximize the success of these funds, however, the Conservancy needs to match the grant dollars 1 for 1 with our private fundraising efforts and local match from landowners willing to sell for less than full market value. “This is quite a challenge, but the success of our first CMI grant and the enthusiasm it created for more projects has given us the confidence to move forward on this second phase of our permanent protection of the Lake Leelanau Watershed,” noted Matt Heiman.