An idyllic setting for land preservation, local agriculture, community collaboration, public access, and volunteerism, the Maple Bay Farm and Natural Area represents nearly every aspect of the Conservancy’s work. This unique landscape embodies the spirit of Maple Bay and contributes to the love that people have for this charming property.

With a rich history in agriculture, farming is intrinsic to the land at Maple Bay and a significant part of the region’s culture. However, over time, certain agricultural practices have degraded some of the property’s natural features and come in conflict with recreational uses.

GTRLC is collaborating with Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on a new initiative to improve the balance between recreation, agriculture and the natural environment by enhancing the native habitat at Maple Bay.

We will convert 90 acres of agricultural land that is currently the most susceptible to conflicts and natural area degradation to native habitat, creating a natural buffer to protect the property’s sensitive wetlands, wildlife habitats, and recreation areas.

Carefully designed to sustain agriculture and enhance natural ecosystems, a mix of native wildflowers, grasses, forbs and shrubs will be used in targeted areas to support wildlife at Maple Bay, especially pollinating insects and nesting grassland birds that are experiencing a concerning decline in numbers.

The 90 acres of former farmland will be restored in three phases between 2022-2024, with habitat consisting of 24 species of native grasses and wildflowers intended to replicate a prairie ecosystem. Meanwhile, the remaining farming activity will focus on 90 acres of upland soils on the east side of US-31, distant from sensitive natural features. Each site will be maintained for the long term and will take approximately three years to establish.

Learn more about the Maple Bay Farm and Natural Area.

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