Protecting the Leelanau You Love

At 87, farmer Keith Parker shows no signs of slowing down. He’ll drive a combine for eight hours, harvesting corn that feeds his cattle. Keith grew up on his 340-acre Solon Township farm and this fall permanently protected 99 acres with a farmland conservation easement. The Conservancy purchased the development rights from Keith in a bargain sale; he donated 25% of the cost of the project. A government grant matched with private donations from people like you completed the deal.

“I never wanted to see it developed,” said Keith. “There have been a lot of offers over the years. Money is hard to come by and I almost sold it once but I’m fortunate that I didn’t. If you are a farmer, development causes problems.”

Keith Parker (center) with sons Wes (left) and David stand near the pristine stream that will be protected by their conservation easement.

The multi-faceted land Keith has forever protected takes in 1,300 feet along a Type I cold-water trout stream where Keith and his two sons have never missed an opening day. It backs up to our Cedar River Preserve, and is a highway for wildlife. Wetlands on the Parker property shelter bear and bobcat, deer and songbirds.

Keith would like to protect more of the farm when funds become available. Preserving land like Keith’s helps to safeguard clean water and to keep farmland available for the next generation. In the last 30 years, the Conservancy has worked with over 170 landowners to preserve cherished family lands—including over 5,000 acres of working family farms.

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