The future depends on what you do today.
― Mahatma Gandhi
At the Leelanau Conservancy, the long game has always been central to our thinking, while seizing the opportunities presented to us today. Of course, so many of our opportunities of “today” have been the result of careful planning and relationship-building for years, if not decades.
The times in which we currently live and work are filled with both challenges and opportunities. The real estate market has never been hotter, and the development pressures are as high as we’ve ever witnessed. And, in addition to the summer crowds, we have even more evidence that we’ve been discovered; The Oxford Essential World Atlas, published earlier this year, actually features the Leelanau Peninsula on its cover. There’s no doubt about it, we are in a race to save Leelanau. We’ve always known it, but the pace has assuredly quickened.
Thankfully, for nearly three and a half decades we’ve been quietly building strong, mutually-respectful relationships with landowners throughout Leelanau County, and we’ve seen an ever more prevalent community ethic that there’s no place like Leelanau and together, we’ll work to keep it that way.
All of this spadework has been absolutely crucial to our success, but we couldn’t have done it without your enthusiastic philanthropic and moral support. Because of you, we have a tremendous track record and reputation for reaching our land and water conservation goals. 2020 was undoubtedly one of our most challenging years ever. Yet, we faced down some truly serious adversity and saved another 1000 acres, closing a single-year record of 13 conservation projects. These include adding 350 more acres of precious forestland to our existing Palmer Woods Forest Reserve, putting us at nearly 1,100 total acres for the Reserve and protecting a 5-mile border of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. These are honest-to-goodness victories, inspired by you.
For 33 years, we’ve done it together, folks. Thanks to you – our passionate, loyal supporters, our fiercely dedicated volunteers and our talented and committed staff and board of directors. We are deeply indebted and grateful to you all.
In 2021, we are still going strong with more than a dozen new projects in progress. We are already working to preserve seven more family farms and five new natural lands projects, including a critical 22-acre watershed feature to our Chippewa Run Natural Area in Empire Township. All told, we are working to save over a thousand more acres of our precious Peninsula.
Yes, there are some changes in the wind. But together, we will continue to save the best of Leelanau and protect the Peninsula’s character. Today’s victories preserving the continuing beauty and integrity of Leelanau are the manifestation of that very future for which we have worked and continue to unfailingly toil. Your Conservancy never stops working. We cannot. We are in a race. In a word, Leelanau’s future continues to depend on the vital and urgent work we are doing to save her today.